Cirrhosis of the liver is a condition in which there is loss of normal liver function. It is twice as common in men as in women. Congenital cirrhosis may affect infants or young children.
Causes of Cirrhosis Of The Liver
There are various forms and causes of cirrhosis of the liver. The most common is the result if chronic, excessive alcohol consumption. It is very important for the alcoholic with cirrhosis to give up drinking to try and stop further liver damage. Infections of the liver with the hepatitis virus, particularly hepatitis B or C, can lead to cirrhosis. Most of the causes of hepatitis that do not have any obvious explanation are probably from some type of viral infection of the liver. Biliary cirrhosis, both primary and secondary, can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. In primary biliary cirrhosis, the tubes that the bile passes through become chronically inflamed and obstructed. The cause of this condition in unknown. Secondary biliary cirrhosis produces liver dysfunction when the major bile ducts are chronically obstructed. This can occur as a result of gallstones, infections or narrowing of the ducts due to previous surgery.
Signs and Symptoms of Cirrhosis Of The Liver
Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver vary with the degree of liver injury that is present. Early on fatigue, generalized weakness, poor appetite and weight loss may occur. Other symptoms that may occur early in the course of this disorder include nausea, swelling or discomfort in the right upper abdomen and red palms. Later stages of the disease may produce jaundice - yellowing of the skin and eyes. Dark yellow or brown urine may occur. Spider angioma, which are small vessels in the skin that spread out from a central point, like a spider, may appear. There may be hair loss and enlargement of the breasts in men. Fluid may accumulate in the abdomen, leading to abdominal swelling. Enlargement of the spleen may lead to left upper abdominal discomfort. The veins of the esophagus may dilate leading to esophageal varices. These can bleed, producing blood in the vomit, or black, tarry stools. Bleeding and easy bruising may occur as the clotting factors are not normally produced. Liver failure can lead to mental confusion, coma and death
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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