What is cirrhosis? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?
The liver, which is the largest of our internal organs, weighing approximately 1.5 – 2 kilograms, is the only organ in the body that has the ability to self-renew. This organ, which has great importance in the fulfillment of the vital functions of the body; plays a role in purifying the blood from all kinds of chemicals, drugs, and alcohol. Apart from this, the liver plays a leading role in important processes such as the storage of some vitamins and minerals, digestion of fats, blood coagulation, and regulation of the immune system. For this reason, the smallest damage to the liver can lead to serious problems in the human body.
What is cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis, also called chronic liver disease, is the name given to severe damage to the liver. Different levels of damage can occur in the liver due to various diseases, sometimes for unknown reasons. As a result, various deteriorations occur in the structural functions of the liver and it begins to fail to perform its normal functions. This is the beginning of the cirrhosis process. As the process progresses, the liver begins to harden and shrink as a result of the decrease in liver cells that continue to function. The flow of blood to the hardened tissues becomes difficult and new vascular pathways are formed because the blood cannot reach the tissue. All these events aggravate the cirrhosis table by affecting the liver more negatively. As a result, the liver begins to fail to function and liver failure occurs.
What are the symptoms of cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis does not usually cause symptoms in the early stages. However, as the degree of the disease progresses and the level of damage to the liver increases, the symptoms and the severity of these symptoms increase. The most common symptoms of cirrhosis can be listed as follows:
- Appetite and weight loss.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Constant feeling of tiredness.
- Swelling in the legs – edema formation.
- Swelling due to acid buildup in the abdomen.
- Muscle loss.
- Non-coagulation of blood.
- Menstrual irregularity in women.
- Bruising and bleeding on the skin.
- State of irritability.
- Constipation and gas problem.
- The feeling of heaviness in the stomach.
What are the causes of cirrhosis?
The most common known cause of cirrhosis is chronic alcohol use. Apart from excessive alcohol use, one of the most important causes of cirrhosis is chronic viral hepatitis such as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. In approximately 10-15% of cirrhosis patients, no cause can be found despite all the researches, and this condition is called cirrhosis of unknown origin (cryptogenic cirrhosis). Apart from these, people may develop cirrhosis, albeit rarely, for the following reasons:
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Obstruction and inflammation of the bile ducts.
- Autoimmune hepatitis, caused by the body’s production of antibodies against its own tissues.
- Long-term use of heavy drugs.
- Excessive intake of iron and copper minerals.
- Chronic heart failure.
How is cirrhosis diagnosed?
It is very important to obtain a detailed disease history in patients who apply to a health institution with one or more of the cirrhosis symptoms in the above headings. In particular, patients should be asked whether they have chronic alcohol use and whether they have had viral hepatitis in the past. After a detailed history is taken, medical evaluations are made. The manual examination has an important place in the diagnosis of the disease. Liver stiffness, enlargement, prominent liver margins, spleen enlargement, and abdominal fluid accumulation in cirrhotic patients can be detected during palpation. In addition, jaundice, edema, and bruising on the body are among the diagnostic criteria that stand out in the first examination. A definitive diagnosis of cirrhosis can be made as a result of the examination performed by the physician, as well as ultrasound and other imaging methods, various blood tests, and biopsy.
What are the cirrhosis treatment methods?
Cirrhosis of the liver is divided into 3 levels as A, B, and C according to the progression level of the disease. It is possible to provide a quality life for many years by minimizing the progression of the disease as a result of regular physician control and treatment in patients at A and B levels where the liver has been less damaged. In the treatments applied by specialist physicians, the primary aim is to prevent the progression of the liver’s hardened scar tissue and prevent complications caused by the disease. Avoiding all kinds of foods that may burden the liver, unnecessary drug use and alcohol consumption is the most important treatment principle in patients with cirrhosis. If cirrhosis is of autoimmune origin, treatment with drugs that suppress the immune system, and if it is caused by viral hepatitis, antiviral drug therapy is applied. In patients with C-level cirrhosis with advanced liver damage, liver transplantation may be required upon a physician’s recommendation. If you also have cirrhosis, you can prevent the progression of the disease and increase your quality of life by having regular check-ups and applying the treatment principles recommended by the physician.
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