Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Chronic Liver Disease/Cirrhosis

Chronic Liver Disease/Cirrhosis

What is chronic liver disease?

Chronic liver disease is marked by the gradual destruction of liver tissue over time. Several liver diseases fall under this category:

What is cirrhosis of the liver?

Cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Because of chronic damage to the liver, scar tissue slowly replaces normal functioning liver tissue, progressively diminishing blood flow through the liver. As the normal liver tissue is lost, nutrients, hormones, drugs, and poisons are not processed effectively by the liver. In addition, protein production and other substances produced by the liver are inhibited.

What are the symptoms of cirrhosis?

Symptoms of cirrhosis vary, depending on severity of the condition. Mild cirrhosis may not cause any symptoms at all. The following are the most common symptoms of cirrhosis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of cirrhosis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

What causes cirrhosis?

The most common cause of cirrhosis is alcohol abuse. Other causes include:

How is cirrhosis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for cirrhosis may include:

What is the treatment for cirrhosis?

Specific treatment for cirrhosis will be determined by your doctor based on:

Cirrhosis is a progressive liver disease, and damage sustained to the liver is irreversible. However, with proper nutrition, avoidance of certain toxins (such as alcohol), vitamin supplementation, and management of cirrhosis complications, further liver damage can often be delayed or stopped. In severe cases of cirrhosis, liver transplantation may be considered.

What is fibrosis?

Fibrosis is the growth of scar tissue due to infection, inflammation, injury, or even healing. The overgrowth of scar tissue can occur in almost any organ. Fibrosis in the liver can inhibit the organ's proper functioning. Liver fibrosis is usually the result of cirrhosis.

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