Best cirrhosis doctor near me
Cirrhosis occurs in the late stages of liver disease and is characterized by permanent scarring of the liver tissue. Liver disease, excessive alcohol use, and other conditions can damage and injure liver tissue. As the organ tries to repair itself, it creates scar tissue. This scar tissue is permanent and may affect the function of the liver. If left untreated, late-stage cirrhosis can be potentially life-threatening.
It is important to note that cirrhosis is not cancer. Liver cancer can definitely cause cirrhosis, but cirrhosis is not cancerous.
- Excessive and chronic alcohol abuse
- Chronic viral hepatitis infections
- Liver diseases (such as autoimmune hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and liver cancer)
- Excessive iron levels in the body (hemochromatosis)
- Bile duct disorders
- Sexually transmitted infections (such as syphilis)
- Needle sharing to inject drugs
- Easy bleeding and/ or bruising
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Itchy skin
- Weight loss
- Edema (swelling) in the legs, feet, and ankles
- Fluid build up in the abdomen (ascites)
- Discolored urine
- Blood in the stool
- Redness in the palms of the hands
- Spider-like blood vessels under the skin
- Men: Loss of sex drive, breast enlargement, shrunken testicles
- Women: Premature menopause (absent or lost periods)
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, talk to your health care provider. Cirrhosis can be effectively treated if detected in its early stages, and late-stage cirrhosis can be fatal. While there is no cure for cirrhosis, you can limit damage to the liver and other internal organs by seeking treatment sooner rather than later.
Below is a list of common treatment options for cirrhosis. During your appointment, discuss these with your doctor to determine the right treatment plan for you.
If cirrhosis is still in its early stages, it may be possible to minimize damage to liver tissue by treating the health conditions causing the scarring. This may mean ceasing alcohol use and losing weight. Weight loss can help reduce the effects of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease while ceasing alcohol use can prevent further scarring from occurring. Additionally, your doctor may recommend that you begin a low-sodium diet to manage fluid build-up in the body.
For individuals experiencing cirrhosis caused by diabetes, managing blood sugar levels may help reduce the damage done to the liver.
If your doctor believes that bile duct disorders or a viral hepatitis infection are causing cirrhosis, they will prescribe medication to treat these conditions. While this treatment will not undo damage to the liver, treating these conditions could stop cirrhosis from progressing. Antibiotics may be prescribed to combat bacterial infections that may be causing cirrhosis, and your doctor may recommend vaccination for diseases such as hepatitis, pneumonia, and influenza to prevent further damage to the organ.
If cirrhosis has progressed to the point where the liver is unable to function properly, your doctor may recommend a liver transplant to replace the scarred organ with a healthy organ. Before this surgery is performed, individuals must undergo extensive testing to ensure that they are in good enough health to recover from the procedure.
If your doctor determines that you are a candidate for a liver transplant, you will be placed on a national waiting list, which categorizes patients by blood type, body size, and severity of liver scarring. Individuals who are dealing with cirrhosis as a result of alcohol abuse may not be a candidate for a liver transplant, due to the danger of resuming drinking with a healthy liver. Talk to your doctor about whether or not a liver transplant is right for you, and if you may be a candidate for this operation.