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Cirrhosis Overview

Cirrhosis is a chronic, progressive disease of the liver in which normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue. This scar tissue is caused by inflammation and damage to the liver cells, which in turn leads to diminished liver function.

There are many possible causes of cirrhosis, including viral hepatitis, alcohol abuse, and fatty liver disease.

Treatment typically involves lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol, and medications to control symptoms and complications. In some cases, a liver transplant may be necessary.

Cirrhosis can be a serious and life-threatening condition, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms, which can include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, and abdominal pain.

Cirrhosis is a chronic liver disease that is a result of long-term liver damage. It can affect people of any age but is most common in men over the age of 45.

Read on for some helpful information about cirrhosis and what you can do to protect your liver.


What Are the Symptoms of Cirrhosis?


The most common symptom of cirrhosis is fatigue. Other symptoms can include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Itching
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fluid retention
  • Spider-like blood vessels on the skin
  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Impotence
  • Bruising and bleeding easily

If you have cirrhosis, it is important to see your doctor regularly. You will likely need to have blood tests and liver function tests done regularly to check for complications.

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How Is Cirrhosis Diagnosed?

Cirrhosis is a serious condition that can lead to organ failure and death.

There is no one test that can definitively diagnose cirrhosis, but there are several tests that can be used to help confirm a diagnosis.

These tests may include blood tests to check for liver enzymes, a liver biopsy to check for scarring, and imaging tests such as an ultrasound or CT scan.


Imaging Tests
There are a number of different imaging tests that can be used to diagnose liver disease. The most common of these is an ultrasound, which can be used to assess the size, shape, and texture of the liver.

Other tests that may be used include CT and MRI scans, as well as angiography (a test that uses X-rays to visualize the blood vessels).

In general, imaging tests are not used to specifically diagnose liver disease, but rather to identify possible problems that may be causing liver damage.

For example, an ultrasound may be used to identify a tumor that is causing liver damage, while a CT scan may be used to identify cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).

Once a potential cause of liver damage has been identified, further testing (such as biopsy) may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.


Blood Test for Cirrhosis
A blood test for cirrhosis is used to detect the presence of the disease in an individual. The test measures the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in the blood that are indicative of liver damage. A positive result from the test indicates that the individual has cirrhosis and should be treated accordingly.


Liver Biopsy
Liver biopsy can be used to diagnose cirrhosis and to determine the severity of the condition. The procedure is usually performed using a needle that is inserted through the abdomen into the liver.
A small piece of liver tissue is then removed and examined under a microscope. Liver biopsy is generally safe, but there is a small risk of bleeding and infection.

If cirrhosis is suspected, it is important to see a doctor for further testing and treatment.


What Are the Causes of Cirrhosis?

The exact cause of cirrhosis is often unknown, but it can be caused by a number of factors, including:

Cirrhosis can also be caused by certain medications, such as acetaminophen, and by certain medical conditions, such as hemochromatosis.

Cirrhosis is a serious condition that can lead to a number of complications, including liver failure, ascites, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Treatment for cirrhosis often focuses on managing the underlying cause and preventing further damage to the liver. In some cases, a liver transplant may be necessary.

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Who Can Get Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is a condition that can affect anyone, but it is most common in middle-aged adults. It occurs when the liver is damaged, and scar tissue forms in its place.

This scar tissue can prevent the liver from working properly. Cirrhosis can be caused by many things, including alcohol abuse, viral infections, and certain medications.

It can also be inherited. People with cirrhosis often have no symptoms until the disease is advanced. When symptoms do occur, they may include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

Cirrhosis is a serious condition that can lead to liver failure. If you think you may have cirrhosis, see your doctor for a diagnosis.


How Is Cirrhosis Treated?


Cirrhosis is a progressive disease that can eventually lead to liver failure. There is no cure for cirrhosis, but treatment can help to slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for those affected.

Treatment for cirrhosis typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medical therapies, and, in some cases, surgery.

Lifestyle changes that can help to treat cirrhosis include eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and getting regular exercise.

Medical therapies for cirrhosis can include medications to control symptoms, such as pain and fatigue. In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove part of the damaged liver.

If you have cirrhosis, it is important to work with your healthcare team to create a treatment plan that is right for you.

With proper treatment, it is possible to manage the symptoms of cirrhosis and improve your quality of life.


The Difference Between Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a condition that results from the build-up of scar tissue in the liver.

Alcoholic cirrhosis is caused by chronic, heavy alcohol use, while non-alcoholic cirrhosis can be caused by a variety of conditions, including obesity, hepatitis C, and iron overload.

There are several key differences between alcoholic and non-alcoholic cirrhosis.

Alcoholic cirrhosis typically develops over many years, while non-alcoholic cirrhosis can develop much quicker.

Alcoholic cirrhosis is also more likely to cause symptoms such as jaundice and ascites, while non-alcoholic cirrhosis is more likely to cause fatigue and pain.

For alcoholic cirrhosis, this means abstaining from alcohol. For non-alcoholic cirrhosis, treatment may involve weight loss, exercise, and medications to control liver damage. In both cases, early diagnosis and treatment is essential for the best possible outcome.

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When You Should See a Doctor


Cirrhosis is a term that is used to describe the damaged state of the liver. It is often the result of a long-term, chronic inflammatory process that can be caused by many different diseases.

Cirrhosis is an often-fatal disease, but it can be treated with a liver transplant if caught early enough.

If you would like to learn more about cirrhosis or would like to discuss your own cirrhosis diagnosis, please contact us for more information.

Cirrhosis is a serious disease that can lead to liver failure and liver cancer. You should be aware of Cirrhosis and its symptoms.

Dr. Schneider offer services such as endoscopy procedures, including gastroscopy, colonoscopy and video capsule endoscopy.

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of IBD in Johannesburg, contact Dr. Schneider or book your consultation today.


The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.