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Cirrhosis is when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue. This stops the liver from working normally.
Cirrhosis is a long-term (chronic) liver disease. The damage to your liver builds up over time.
The liver is your body’s largest internal organ. It lies up under your ribs on the right side of your belly.
The liver does many important things including:
When you have cirrhosis, scar tissue slows the flow of blood through the liver. Over time, the liver can’t work the way it should.
In severe cases, the liver gets so badly damaged that it stops working. This is called liver failure.
The most common causes of cirrhosis are:
Other less common causes of cirrhosis may include:
Some diseases passed from parent to child (inherited diseases) may also cause cirrhosis. These may include:
Your symptoms may vary, depending on how severe your cirrhosis is. Mild cirrhosis may not cause any symptoms at all.
Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of cirrhosis may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.
Your healthcare provider will look at your past health. He or she will give you a physical exam.
You may also have tests including:
Your healthcare provider may want you to have imaging tests including:
Cirrhosis is a progressive liver disease that happens over time. The damage to your liver can sometimes reverse or improve if the trigger is gone, such as stop drinking alcohol or if the virus is treated.
The goal of treatment is to slow down the buildup of scar tissue and prevent or treat other health problems.
In many cases, you may be able to delay or stop any more liver damage. If you have hepatitis, it may be treated to delay worsening of your liver disease.
Your treatment may include:
Talk to your healthcare provider before taking prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, or vitamins.
If you have severe cirrhosis, treatment can’t control other problems. A liver transplant may be needed.Other treatments may be specific to your cause of cirrhosis, such as controlling excessive iron or copper levels, or using immune suppressing medicines.
Be sure to ask your healthcare provider about recommended vaccines. These include vaccines for viruses that can cause liver disease.
Cirrhosis can cause other health problems such as:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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