Cirrhosis is the concluding stage of chronic liver diseases. It is a medical condition where normal liver tissues are replaced by fibrous scar tissue. Fibrous scar tissues are regenerated when a healthy liver is damaged and the body heals itself. This is not as functional as the original liver tissue, as it is paler and denser, thus there is limited movement and circulation of blood supply. This damages the liver, leading to gradual destruction of liver functions and consequently, liver failure.
Leading causes of cirrhosis are:
- Excessive alcohol consumption. Although this disease affects only 10-20% of alcoholics, it remains the leading cause of cirrhosis. This is because alcohol decreases antioxidants, particularly glutathione, in the liver, which makes it prone to liver diseases. Nutritional deficiency caused by alcohol consumption also lowers the body's immune system, which aggravates the condition.
- Hepatitis. Blood transfusions, body painting using needles (tattoo), among other causes are common ways by which one acquires the hepatitis B and C virus. Because symptoms are usually unnoticed, they are left untreated. This type of hepatitis inflames the liver, leading to chronic liver disease. One in four patients with hepatitis C develops liver disease.
Other causes include billary cirrhosis, cardiac cirrhosis, inherited disorders, over-intake of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
How do you treat cirrhosis?
- Prevention is better than cure. Since cirrhosis is the ending stage of chronic liver diseases, it may already be impossible to completely treat the disease. If you are a heavy drinker or you have poor lifestyle quality, you should have your blood checked regularly. This is because liver damage is detected at the early stage through blood tests.
- Completely stop alcohol intake. If you are an alcoholic and diagnosed with alcoholic cirrhosis, now is the best time for you to stop drinking. Continued alcoholism will only aggravate your condition. No matter how morbid it may sound, your disease will eventually lead to a very difficult death.
- Develop a green and healthy lifestyle. Poor nutritional intake and imbalanced diet worsen your condition. Your body needs to get as many antioxidants as possible to empower your immune system and prevent further complications of your condition. Include green leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet, as these are rich in vitamins, minerals and natural antioxidants. Avoid fatty foods, junk foods such as chips, carbonated drinks and other unhealthy food. Also, avoid protein-rich foods, as they form toxins in your digestive tract.
- Seek professional help and religiously follow doctor's instructions. At the appearance of early signs and symptoms, seek professional help immediately. Your doctor can best advise you on proper medication, supplemental food intake, and physical activities. If you need to spend a longer time at the hospital, do so. Medical tests need to be undertaken in order to properly diagnose your condition.
- Take supplements in order to aid your liver functions. Vitamins E, K, A and B are highly recommended vitamins to aid liver function. Make sure to consult your doctor before you take supplements.
It is important to understand that the damage caused by cirrhosis in your liver cannot be reversed. Treatments intend to delay progression of liver damage to avoid the need for you to get a liver transplant.
Lastly, adopt and live a life of wellness, which is defined by the World Health Organization as "the state of complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease." It is never too late.