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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.