Liver Cirrhosis Song *Part 1*

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3 Major Malfunctions of Liver Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is definitely something to worry about considering that it is at least in the top 12 leading causes of death by disease. With that, it’s just right to understand its nature to ensure that you won’t be a part of the statistics.

There are a variety of causes of cirrhosis of the liver. The most common of which are alcohol abuse and hepatitis C as well as fatty liver related to diabetes or obesity. In fact, anything that harms your liver should be avoided.

The liver has a number of basic functions which include the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It is also responsible for storing minerals, vitamins and glycogen as well as the production of bile. Most importantly, it helps in taking out drugs, alcohol, hormones, cholesterol, and other harmful toxins away from your body.

Cirrhosis of the liver begins to progress very slowly. During this process, scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue. This can lead to a number of liver malfunctions if it goes without treatment.

1. Hepatic Encephalopathy

This causes confused thinking and a variety of mental changes. It occurs most often when cirrhosis has been present within the liver for quite a long time. The liver usually detoxifies the body of toxins that are produced by the intestines, but once cirrhosis develops in the liver, it cannot start its cleaning function for the body. As a result, the toxins that slip through find their way to the bloodstream and may cause behavioral changes, confusion and possibly even coma.

2. Variceal Bleeding

Portal hypertension is the cause of variceal bleeding. Portal hypertension is an increase in pressure inside the portal vein. The function of the portal vein is to carry blood to the liver from the digestive organs. The increase in pressure of the portal vein is caused by a blood flow blockage through the liver, causing the enlargement of other veins throughout the body, most commonly in those of the esophagus and stomach. The enlargement causes the veins to become fragile and begin to bleed easily which causes fluid in the abdomen and hemorrhaging.

3. Liver Cancer

More than half of liver cancer patients have also been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Each year, about 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with this unfortunate liver condition. Liver cancer causes weakness, fever, yellowing of the eyes and skin, bloating, and many more symptoms. Treatments are currently limited and are only possible if the cancer has been found early. One treatment includes liver transplants although this is only possible if the cancer has not spread.

The effects associated with having cirrhosis is obviously a serious and scary thing. So when you’re young and still enjoying a healthy liver, you must do your best to take care of your liver as much as possible. Simple acts such as abstaining from alcohol will let you go a long way. On the other hand, if you already have cirrhosis, you must do what needs to be done to make your life more comfortable. Make sure to follow your doctor’s advice as they only want the best for you.

How Do I Know If I Have Cirrhosis?

Sometimes, liver cirrhosis diagnosis can be done quite easily. A clear description of your symptoms and medical history and a physical examination results are enough to determine whether you are suffering from a case of cirrhosis.

After diagnosis, for your physician to understand and evaluate the extent of your condition may order one or more liver function tests. These tests use blood samples to determine the general health of the liver and identify whether there are any specific diseases.

The doctor may also order other tests to evaluate further the extent of cirrhosis and the damage it may have caused – these include CT scan, ultrasound, besides tissue samples and other, more specific blood tests. Additionally, the doctor may also need a liver biopsy. If this is the case, a needle is inserted into the liver, to draw out a tissue fragment. The tissue fragment is then applied for lab analysis.

UPMCEast CTscan.jpg
UPMCEast CTscan” by daveynin from United States – New UPMC East
Uploaded by crazypaco. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

What Are The Treatments for Cirrhosis?

The easiest and best to solve any problem, as with cirrhosis, is to nip it in the bud. If the cause of the condition is identified and corrected, there is a fair chance that it could solve your problem. The process could involve giving up alcohol, getting yourself treated for viral hepatitis or a genetic disorder (if any), editing your diet, or even removing certain substances from your environment that may be harming you. While these measures may not cure the disease, they can certainly prevent them from progressing further. Additionally, even when the conditions can’t be cured, medications help put them into remission.

Conventional treatment helps correct any otherwise complications, such as internal bleeding, which can be life-threatening just by itself.

If alcoholism itself is the cause of your cirrhosis, the only correct course of action is to stop any and all alcohol consumption with immediate effect. Continuing to drink after being diagnosed with cirrhosis gives you a less than 40% chance of living for the next five years while stopping will increase the odds to 60%-70%. Additionally, giving up alcohol is the most appropriate way to remedy alcohol-induced fatty liver and alcoholic hepatitis, which clear up when the patient stops drinking for a long time that causes the liver to heal.

Conventional treatment of viral hepatitis-induced cirrhosis entails plenty of rest, adequate nutrition and the possible use of drug interferon and antiretroviral medicines. Interferon, when combined with the antiviral ribavirin, can improve cure chances. However, it should be noted that some types of hepatitis simply cannot be cured.

Doctors usually prescribe medications that make the body get rid of any all accumulated copper – the consumption might be a life requirement. In case the patient suffers from hemochromatosis, the best course of treatment is to dispose of the excess iron by drawing blood from the patient once or twice a week, depending on the requirement, a process that may continue up to two years, or till the iron level reaches it normal range. After that, treatment continues every two to four months.

In the case of severe cirrhosis, the patient may need a liver transplant. However, transplants are normally regarded as a measure of last resort for many reasons. Transplants are not appropriate for all – firstly, the patient may be too young, old, or even too sick to sustain even the procedure. Secondly, people whose cirrhosis are caused by alcohol abuse need to demonstrate a long period of abstinence before the operation, partly due to the concern of doctors who are hesitant to transplant a liver if they think the patient may just ending up abusing it again.

Proper, adequate nutrition plays a detrimental role in cirrhosis treatment. A balanced diet can help with regenerating cells in the intact portion. A balanced diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, grains, milk and protein. However, it should also be noted that those suffering from cirrhosis should monitor their protein intake, as too less protein can slow cell regeneration, which too much protein raise ammonia levels in the bloodstream, which may lead to mental impairment. In this, regard, it is best to consult your doctor or nutritionist to determine the amount of protein that is appropriate for you.

The cirrhosis treatment goal is to slow the progression of liver scar tissue and prevent or treat symptoms if any. This treatment is dependent upon the cause and extent of liver damage.  Hospitalisation is a must in case the liver damage is severe.

Treatment for the underlying cause of cirrhosis

In its early stages, it is possible to minimize cirrhosis-induced liver damage by simply treating the immediate underlying cause. These include the following options:

Treatment for alcohol dependency

For those people where the cause of cirrhosis is alcohol abuse, trying to stop drinking is the best course of action. In case you are facing difficulties in this regard, your doctor may recommend a treatment program for ridding your alcohol addiction.

Weight loss

Losing weight and controlling blood sugar levels can help those suffering from cirrhosis caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease become healthier.

Medications to control hepatitis: Medications can help control damage to liver cells caused by hepatitis B or C.

Medications to control other causes and symptoms of cirrhosis

Medications can slow the progression of some types of liver cirrhosis. For instance, people with diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis in the earliest stages and treated for the same may never experience symptoms at all.

Other medication aims to relieve patients with certain symptoms include: itching, fatigue, and pain. Additionally, nutritional supplements may also be prescribed to counter against cirrhosis-associated malnutrition as well as osteoporosis (weak bones).

Treatment for complications of cirrhosis

Your doctor will work to treat any and all cirrhosis-related complications. These include:

Excess fluid in your body: Edema or ascites can be managed with low-sodium in the diet and medication to prevent any fluid build-up. In the case of severing fluid build-up, other procedures to drain the fluid, or surgery to relieve pressure may be required.

Portal hypertension

Blood pressure medicines can control the pressure in the veins that supply the liver (portal hypertension) and prevent severe bleeding. The doctor, here, will perform upper endoscopy at certain regular intervals to find enlarged veins in the stomach (varices) or esophagus that might bleed.

You may require medication to reduce or stop the risk of bleeding if you have varices. However, if you cannot tolerate medication or show signs that your varices are likely to bleed, you may require a procedure called band litigation to stop the bleeding. In more severe cases, you may need a Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS) – which is a small vein tube that can be placed to reduce the blood pressure in your liver.

Infections

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and other treatments for infections, which may include vaccinations for pneumonia, hepatitis, and influenza.

Staphylococcus aureus (AB Test).jpg
Staphylococcus aureus (AB Test)” by CDC / Provider: Don Stalons – phil.cdc.gov. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Increased liver cancer risk

Your doctor may further prescribe periodic blood tests and ultrasound tests to determine whether you have liver cancer.

Hepatic encephalopathy:  Prescription for medications would help reduce toxin build-up in the blood caused due to poor liver function.

Liver Transplant Surgery

A liver transplant is a procedure that entails the replacement of the existing liver with a healthy one. The liver contribution can either be from a diseased donor or may be a part of a liver from a living donor. In those cases where the cirrhosis has moved to an advanced stage, where it has ceased to function altogether, a liver transplant may seem to be the only viable option. Cirrhosis is the most common reason for the requirement of a liver transplant.  Take a look a http://www.cirrhosismedication.com for details.

It should be noted, however, that liver transplant, being a measure of last resort, require extensive training to ensure that the candidate is in perfect health condition to sustain the operation. Also, transplant centers also require a long period of abstinence from alcohol, typically six months before the procedure for people with the alcohol-related liver disease.

There is no other organ in the body that performs a wider variety of jobs than the lliver. It helps blood to clot, removes toxins, produces bile, aids in maintaining blood sugar levels and regulates several different hormones.

Fatty liver, Hepatitis C, and alcohol abuse are the most common causes of cirrhosis of the liver in the United States. Women are at greater risk of cirrhosis from drinking than men. The reason for this is unclear. However anything that causes damage to the liver can cause cirrhosis.  Obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, chronic viral infections of the liver and repeated heart failure are just a few things that may cause your liver to be damaged.

HCV EM picture 2.png
HCV EM picture 2” by HCV_pictures.png: Maria Teresa Catanese, Martina Kopp, Kunihiro Uryu , and Charles Rice
derivative work: TimVickers (talk) – HCV_pictures.png. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Although cirrhosis cannot be cured, your doctor may prescribe several medications to treat your cirrhosis which can slow the progression of liver disease. In addition to medications that treat cirrhosis, there are also several medications that aid in the treatment of complications that may arise from cirrhosis. Complications may include kidney failure, reduced oxygen to the blood, diabetes, excessive bleeding and bruising etc. It is important to keep all scheduled follow up appointments with your doctor. It is important to treat any or problems as they arise in order to prevent further complications.

There are medications to treat the causes of cirrhosis. For example, the medication Disulfiram, Naltrexone, and Acamprosate treat cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcohol abuse.  These drugs will cause you to experience a negative reaction, or hangover type symptoms that are much worse than the usual hangover symptoms. Other medications to treat the causes of cirrhosis include antiviral medications, corticosteroids, and metal chelating agents.

Most medications are directed at treating the complications that arise from cirrhosis. Medications to treat the complications of cirrhosis include antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin, Vitamin K, blood coagulation medications, diuretics, beta blockers and laxatives. Additional medications may be prescribed for itching and infections as well as blood pressure medicine to lower the blood pressure and reduce the risk of internal bleeding.

There are also many different multivitamin/mineral supplements that may be recommended by your doctor. Taking multivitamins/minerals will help correct any deficiencies in your diet that may have developed as a result of liver disease. If alcohol consumption on a regular basis occurred than your doctor may also prescribe additional thiamine and folate.  As always, consult with your doctor or a registered dietician before beginning a supplement routine.

If you are taking medications it is important to take them as directed. You should not change the amount of the medication or the schedule.  It is good to know what possible side effects could occur as a result of taking the medication and you should always talk to your doctor prior to discontinuing any of your medications. Plan ahead for refills, especially if you are going to be on vacation. Additionally, medications can become dangerous when they are mixed.  Talk to your doctor about all medications you are taking including any over the counter products.

The liver has been identified as providing more than 500 functions in the body. Some of the more well-known functions of the liver include regulating most of the chemicals in the blood, excreting bile which helps carry waste products from the body, regulating blood clotting and resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream.  There are several diseases that can affect the liver’s ability to perform these vital functions. They include Viral Hepatitis, Alcoholic Liver Disease, Liver Cancer, Cholestatic Liver Disease, Fatty Liver Disease, Autoimmune Liver Diseases, Drug induced Liver Injury and Liver Transplant.

Liver therapy treatments vary and depend on which type of disease is affecting the liver. For example, viral hepatitis usually consist of weekly injections to stimulate the body’s immune system and oral medications, while alcoholic liver disease treatment is aimed mostly at maintaining abstinence from alcohol. Cirrhosis of the liver is often treated with Corticosteroids along with other medications that reduce the inflammation of the liver, and diuretics which help remove excess fluid.

Lifestyle change is another very important aspect of liver therapy treatment. Maintain a special diet that is low in protein.  A diet low in protein will reduce the risk of toxins that may build up in the body due to the livers reduced ability to process protein correctly. Your diet should consist of high-carbohydrates and avoid salt. Sodium causes fluid build-up and swelling in the liver. Also avoid eating shellfish if you have cirrhosis of the liver. Shellfish can contain a bacterium which can cause a serious infection. The second most important lifestyle change you can make to improve the health of your liver is to lose weight. Obesity, either by itself or with other factors is can cause cirrhosis of the liver.

CT cholangioca.jpg
CT cholangioca” by The original uploader was Samir at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Many home remedies and supplements offer another option for treating problems with the liver. Some commonly used herbal remedies include licorice root, Tumeric, flaxseeds and also eating an abundance of vegetables such as beets, cabbage, and broccoli.

Liver Cleanses are another popular treatment. Many are naturally supported daily cleanses rather than a harsh cleanse used once or twice a year. Many contain three powerful herbs that help detoxify the liver, milk thistle, dandelion, and reishi.

A more recent liver therapy is YHK. It is a natural liver treatment that can aid in normalizing liver functions for people who have liver disease, by enhancing the growth and repair of damaged liver cells.  Incidentally, YHK therapy is also suitable for people who want to maintain liver health. It is a combination of herbs that prevent chronic inflammation and fibrosis, serves as an anti-inflammatory, enhances the immune system and normalizes the ALT and AST levels in the blood.

There are many options for taking care of your liver and thus your health. It is important to check with your doctor prior to beginning any type of liver treatment. Always gather information from different sources and, with the assistance of a dietary specialist or a medical professional, choose the option that works best for you.

The liver is a large organ and is part of the human digestive system.  It takes on many jobs such as making bile to help digest food, filters poisons from the blood, breaks down alcohol and other drugs and it also controls the amounts of sugar, fat, and protein in the bloodstream.

A person who has cirrhosis has scar tissue that has replaced the healthy tissue in their liver.  It is this scare tissue that prevents the liver from working correctly. For example, the liver may no longer produce the clotting factors which can lead to bruising and bleeding.

There is not a cure for cirrhosis, treatment will depend on the cause and the extent of the liver damage. The scarring of the liver that has already occurred cannot be repaired. However, treatment can often prevent or delay further damage to the liver. Liver cirrhosis treatment includes regular doctor visits, lifestyle changes and medication. Occasionally surgery may be needed if there are complications from cirrhosis.

Sobo 1906 323.png
Sobo 1906 323” by Dr. Johannes Sobotta – Sobotta’s Atlas and Text-book of Human Anatomy 1906. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES

No one really likes to have to make changes to their lifestyle. We get into a routine that is comfortable and satisfying. Unfortunately, we often don’t realize how unhealthy our lifestyle is until our body begins sending us distress signals. To treat cirrhosis of the liver, the following are some of the changes you may need to make.

  • Completely quit drinking alcohol
  • Have a discussion with your doctor about all the medications you take. This includes Tylenol, ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). These medicines could increase the risk of damage to the liver
  • Follow a low sodium diet. Reducing the amount of sodium can help prevent fluids from building up in your body.
  • Make sure you are immunized against hepatitis A and B as well as influenza and pneumococcus.
  • If you are overweight, losing the weight may help you to become healthier and assist the liver in controlling blood sugar levels.

There are also numerous medications of cirrhosis that may slow the progression of some types of cirrhosis and help treat cirrhosis of the liver.  For example, those with biliary cirrhosis may never experience sypmtoms if it is treated early. Other medications can aid in relieving some of the symptoms associaciated with cirrhosis such as fatigue, itching, and pain. Often nutritional supplements are prescribed to aid in malnutrition that is asscoiciated with cirrhosis.

FOLLOW-UP VISITS

In order to provide the best treatment for cirrhosis of the liver, it is important to work closely with your doctor. Sometimes a problem may become severe before symptoms even begin to appear and it is important to address these problems promptly. Some complications include, hypertension, or elevated blood pressure, infections increased risk of liver cancer and a build up of toxins in the body due to poor liver function. In addition to regular checkups, the doctor will order lab tests and screen for enlarged veins to ensure there is no bleeding in the esophagus or stomach.

With proper care and attention, cirrhosis of the liver can be treated and managed in such a way that severe complications do not arise. By properly treating cirrhosis at an early stage, you can reduce or possibly eliminate any complications caused by cirrhosis.