Liver Cirrhosis in Washington
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What is liver cirrhosis?
Your liver is a bodily organ that carries out several essential functions necessary for health, including filtering harmful toxins from the blood and breaking down fat. Liver cirrhosis, also known as hepatic cirrhosis, is a health condition that develops when the liver becomes inflamed and scarred from issues like late-stage liver disease and chronic alcohol abuse. As additional scar tissue forms, the functionality of the liver continually diminishes. The different levels of severity surrounding liver cirrhosis are categorized into four separate stages.
Stage 1: Some scarring of the liver, but there are few symptoms and no complications
Stage 2: Additional symptoms occur, including swollen and enlarged veins and high blood pressure involving the portal vein in the liver (portal hypertension)
Stage 3: Symptoms involve advanced scarring of liver tissue and abdominal swelling, along with significant complications and the potential for liver failure
Stage 4: At this stage, liver cirrhosis can be deadly without a liver transplant
At Washington Gastroenterology, our GI providers can identify, address, and help patients manage liver issues. To find treatment for liver cirrhosis in Washington, please request an appointment with one of our local providers today.
What causes liver cirrhosis?
There are an array of factors that can cause liver scarring, which could lead to the development of cirrhosis. These can involve the following:
- Wilson’s disease
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Abnormal formation of bile ducts
- Viral liver infections (hepatitis B & C)
- Chronic alcoholism
- Iron buildup in the body
- Certain medications
- Bile duct damage
- Liver disease caused by autoimmune hepatitis
- Genetic GI conditions
- Cystic fibrosis
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
- Sugar metabolism disorders
If you experience concerns with your liver and need care, reach out to our GI providers at a local Washington Gastroenterology. Our skill and expertise can guide you toward the appropriate options for personalized treatment.
What are the symptoms of liver cirrhosis?
The initial stages of liver cirrhosis may be asymptomatic. However, some of the first signs you might feel could include lethargy, weakness, and decreased appetite. When the condition progresses, the symptoms can involve:
- Muscle cramps
- Brownish urine
- Swollen abdomen
- Spider web-like veins
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes/skin)
- Bruise or bleed easily
- Abrupt weight loss or gain
- Bloody stools
- Red palms
- Swollen legs
How is liver cirrhosis treated?
Liver damage and scarring cannot be reversed, but the liver can often still function and bounce back even when two-thirds of the organ has been excised (removed) or damaged. Below are some of the treatment options our Washington Gastroenterology team may recommend for improving the liver's capacity to function:
- Reduce the risk of further damage to the liver
- Targeting the particular issues surrounding your condition
- Liver transplant procedure
- Avoid taking specific medications (naproxen, ibuprofen, etc.)
- Vaccination for hepatitis A and B
- Antiviral medications for hepatitis B and C
Are there any complications of liver cirrhosis?
The liver plays a vital role in the body, and any level of damage or injury suffered by the liver will inhibit its ability to function normally. Some of the possible health complications related to cirrhosis of the liver include:
- Bacterial peritonitis (an inflamed abdominal wall)
- Hypersplenism (an overactive spleen)
- Hepatic encephalopathy (a buildup of toxins in the blood causing brain damage)
- Liver cancer
Liver Cirrhosis FAQs
What tests are used to diagnose liver cirrhosis?
Our Washington providers might employ a number of testing options to confirm the presence of liver cirrhosis. These could involve a physical examination, lab work, and diagnostic imaging such as ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI. In specific individuals, a liver biopsy might be conducted, where a small sample of liver tissue is extracted for laboratory testing.
Is cirrhosis of the liver a curable condition?
Although the damage caused by cirrhosis typically cannot be reversed, the condition can often be managed with timely care. The goal of treatment is to slow the advancement of scar tissue in the liver and to impede or treat the challenges that accompany the condition. If it reaches the end stage, a liver transplant may be a treatment option.
Is cirrhosis of the liver an inherited disease?
In most cases, cirrhosis is not inherited. However, some genetic conditions and disorders can predispose some people to cirrhosis of the liver. It is crucial to follow a healthy lifestyle, get regular medical exams, and address any issues or concerns with a healthcare practitioner, such as those at Washington Gastroenterology.
How fast does liver cirrhosis progress?
The pace at which cirrhosis progresses ranges widely and depends on the root cause of the condition, the patient's general health, lifestyle choices, and how well they respond to care. In some patients, cirrhosis may be present over many years or decades and not show any symptoms. In other instances, however, cirrhosis can progress quickly.
Personalized care for liver health
Scarring of the liver can impact your health and wellness in various ways. At Washington Gastroenterology, we aim to help you experience a life in which further damage to the liver can be prevented. To get help for liver cirrhosis in Washington, request a consultation with a local digestive health specialist today.
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