Cirrhosis of Liver


You cannot live without a functioning liver, which is essential in keeping the body functioning properly. It removes or neutralizes poisons from the blood, produces immune agents to control infection, and removes germs and bacteria from the blood. It makes proteins that regulate blood clotting and produces bile to help absorb fats and fat–soluble vitamins. In cirrhosis of the liver, scar tissue replaces normal, healthy tissue, blocking the flow of blood through the organ and preventing it from working as it should. The cost of cirrhosis in terms of human suffering, hospital costs, and lost productivity is very high.

Causes Cirrhosis has many causes. To many people, cirrhosis of the liver is synonymous with chronic alcoholism, but in fact, alcoholism is only one of the causes. Alcoholic cirrhosis usually develops after more than a decade of heavy drinking. The amount of alcohol that can injure the liver varies greatly from person to person. In women, as few as two to three drinks per day have been linked with cirrhosis and in men, as few as three to four drinks per day. Alcohol seems to injure the liver by blocking the normal metabolism of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Chronic hepatitis C The hepatitis C virus is a major cause of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. Infection with this virus causes inflammation of and low–grade damage to the liver that over several decades can lead to cirrhosis.

Chronic hepatitis B and D The hepatitis B virus is probably the most common cause of cirrhosis worldwide, Hepatitis B, like hepatitis C, causes liver inflammation and injury that over several decades can lead to cirrhosis. The hepatitis D virus is another virus that infects the liver, but only in people who already have hepatitis B.

Autoimmune hepatitis This type of hepatitis is caused by a problem with the immune system.

Inherited diseases Alpha–1 antitrypsin deficiency, hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, galactosemia, and glycogen storage diseases are among the inherited diseases that interfere with the way the liver produces, processes, and stores enzymes, proteins, metals, and other substances the body needs to function properly.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) In NASH, fat builds up in the liver and eventually causes scar tissue. This type of hepatitis appears to be associated with diabetes, protein malnutrition, obesity, coronary artery disease, and corticosteroid treatment.