Evidence of scarring is often seen in cases of advanced cirrhosis commonly caused by
hepatitis and overconsumption of alcohol.
the term used whenever healthy functioning liver cells are destroyed
and distortion and scarring of the liver takes place due to liver disease.
was sited as the primary cause of cirrhosis, but due to the rapid
rise of the hepatitis
C virus, it has now taken first place as a major risk factor.
Other less common
causes of cirrhosis include coronary
heart disease, autoimmune diseases such as hemochromatosis (excess
iron accumulation in the blood) or hereditary conditions such as
Additional risk factors are ingestions of poisons
or environmental exposure to certain chemicals.
In its early
stages, cirrhosis may show no symptoms, but as the disease progresses
patients will commonly report fatigue, nausea, unexplained weight
loss or swelling in the legs and abdomen. As the liver begins to
fail, jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
may develop along with intense itching caused by a build-up of bile
in the skin.
scarring from cirrhosis is irreversible, the disease usually develops
over time and with proper treatment symptoms can be brought
part of treatment always calls for a complete abstinence from alcohol.
Patients are also advised to get vaccinated against preventable hepatitis
strains (hepatitis A & B), and to avoid common painkillers and
other medications that may damage the liver further.
are as equally important in managing cirrhosis. Usually, patients
are warned about the severe infections which can arise from eating
raw shellfish that may carry the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. Reduction in salt intake is also highly recommended to avoid recurrences
of swelling in the legs and ankles.
A low fat diet,
rich in fresh fruit & vegetables, is also usually advised for
overall optimum health, and the herb milk
thistle may be prescribed for its natural liver healing properties.
Used in Europe for centuries, today scientific studies have proven
the effectiveness of milk thistle in liver disease, but consult
with your doctor to ensure it won't interact with other prescribed
fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon and in flaxseed
oil and walnuts, have also been suggested for their liver protecting properties.
Panel - A guide to typical diagnostic tools used to detect
liver disease or damage, with detailed information on the alanine
aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), aspartate aminotransferase
(AST), bilirubin, albumin and total protein tests.