There are several factors that may injure healthy liver cells and lead to their death and inflammation. The formation of scar tissue happens in its response. This leads to cirrhosis. As the disease progresses, the amount of healthy tissue in the liver is replaced by scarred tissue. This impacts metabolic processes and the overall well-being of the body.
Being aware of the causes and the associated symptoms can help in timely diagnosis and better treatment. The most common causes of liver diseases that lead to abnormal functioning of the liver are listed below:
One of the highly prevalent causes of Liver Cirrhosis is the regular consumption of alcohol. It’s the liver’s function to break down the toxins present in alcohol. But when the exposure occurs for a long period of time, it can damage the liver and its functioning.
Cirrhosis can be a result of hepatitis B, C or D. This is a blood-borne infection that can affect the liver and cause harm to it. Autoimmune hepatitis is also considered to be a cause of liver cirrhosis in some patients.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
This occurs when there is an accumulation of fat in the liver, which affects its ability to function. This can lead to inflammation and scarring, which causes cirrhosis. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is mostly seen in patients with high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes.
Genetic conditions like Wilson disease and hemochromatosis in which metals like copper and iron accumulate in the body to become liver Cirrhosis causes and potentially lead to complete failure of the liver.
Exposure to toxins
Long-term exposure to a toxic environment or reaction to prescription medicines, including antidepressants and antibiotics, may also lead to liver failure.
Budd-Chiari syndrome is believed to be one of the Liver Cirrhosis Causes as it is a condition where the liver enlarges due to blockage or formation of blood clots in the hepatic vein.
Diseases such as primary biliary cholangitis or sclerosing cholangitis can cause extensive damage to the liver and, eventually, it’s scarring.
Other diseases that can be regarded as causes of liver cirrhosis include:
● Frequent bouts of heart failure
● Metabolic disorders like galactosemia(inability to process milk’s sugar), problem in glycogen storage and alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
● Cystic fibrosis
● Malformed bile ducts in children
● Autoimmune disorders
● Blockage of bile ducts
All of these conditions affect the health and functioning of the liver. Some of the severe complications that may arise due to this include increase in the pressure in the portal vein, expansion of blood vessels, inability to think clearly, overactivation of the spleen, increased risk of infections, malnutrition etc. These complications can be avoided by being mindful of the causes and symptoms of the disease.
Symptoms associated with the disease:
Depending on the extent of damage that has occurred to the liver, cirrhosis can be at the compensated or the decompensated stage. While people with compensated cirrhosis may show little scarring and still have some amount of healthy tissue available, patients with decompensated cirrhosis have already undergone significant damage which cannot be reversed.
Most patients with liver cirrhosis may experience no or minimal symptoms in the initial stages. Some of the symptoms associated with the early stage of this disease include:
● Loss of appetite
● Sudden or extreme weight loss
● Bleeding and bruising easily
● Intense itching
● Nose bleeds
● Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
● Swelling in various parts of the body
Diagnostic tests are run for patients with the above-mentioned symptoms. These tests check the level of liver enzymes, protein levels, signs of inflammation of infection etc.
In the later stages, jaundice, gallstones, lagging mental functioning or coma may occur. To prevent this, it is essential to slow the progression of the disease. Although the disease can not be reversed, the damage to the liver can be slowed down with the help of proper medical treatment. It is important for patients who have a history of alcohol abuse or a family history of liver diseases to be aware of the symptoms and seek immediate diagnosis and treatment for said symptoms.
By knowing what causes Liver Cirrhosis, people who have been predisposed to the condition due to certain risk factors can take better care of themselves and prevent severe complications that are associated with this disease.