Cirrhosis of the liver is a late stage of scarring (fibrosis) of the liver caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis and chronic alcoholism. Each time your liver is injured, it tries to repair itself. In the process, scar tissue forms. As the cirrhosis progresses, more and more scar tissue forms, making it difficult for the liver to function.
Advanced cirrhosis is life-threatening. However, if liver cirrhosis is diagnosed early and the cause is treated, further damage can be limited and, rarely, reversed.
Cirrhosis can lead to a number of complications, including liver cancer. In many cases, cirrhosis is irreversible.
The liver damage done by cirrhosis generally can’t be undone, but if liver cirrhosis is diagnosed early and the cause is treated, further damage can be limited and, rarely, reversed.
Cirrhosis can eventually lead to liver failure. If the liver can’t function, a liver transplant is the only option.
Living with cirrhosis requires careful management and lifestyle adjustments to ensure the best possible quality of life. While cirrhosis is a serious condition, there are steps individuals can take to look after themselves and maintain their well-being. Here’s an overview of what can happen when you have cirrhosis and tips on how to live well with the condition:
Liver Function Impairment
Cirrhosis is characterized by significant scarring of the liver tissue, which can lead to impaired liver function. As a result, the liver may have difficulty processing toxins, producing essential proteins, and regulating various metabolic processes.
Scar tissue in the liver can obstruct blood flow, leading to increased pressure in the portal vein (portal hypertension). This condition can cause complications such as enlarged veins (varices) in the esophagus and stomach, which may bleed.
Portal hypertension can lead to fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity, causing a condition known as ascites. Ascites can cause discomfort, difficulty breathing, and an increased risk of infection.
Liver dysfunction can result in the buildup of toxins in the blood, affecting brain function. Hepatic encephalopathy can lead to confusion, memory problems, and even coma in severe cases.
Edema and Swelling
Cirrhosis can cause fluid retention in the legs (edema) and other parts of the body.
Living well with Cirrhosis
Regularly follow up with healthcare providers to monitor your condition and receive appropriate medical management. Take prescribed medications as directed and attend recommended appointments.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Follow a balanced diet recommended by your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. Reduce sodium intake to manage fluid retention and maintain a healthy weight.
Completely avoid alcohol consumption, as it can further damage the liver and worsen cirrhosis.
If complications like ascites or hepatic encephalopathy occur, work closely with your healthcare team to manage these conditions effectively.
Take steps to prevent infections, as cirrhosis can weaken the immune system. Practice good hygiene and receive recommended vaccinations.
Engage in regular physical activity suitable for your condition. Exercise can improve overall health, reduce the risk of complications, and boost your mood.
Seek emotional support from loved ones, support groups, or mental health professionals if needed. Managing cirrhosis can be emotionally challenging, and having a supportive network is essential.
Remember that every individual’s situation is unique, and managing cirrhosis requires personalised care. Work closely with your healthcare team to create a tailored treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and supports your well-being.