Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver and its symptoms

Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver is an extremely dangerous pathological condition in which a high mortality rate is observed. The essence of this pathology is that hepatocytes undergo destructive changes, and fibrous tissue appears in their place. The main reason for the development of this disease is long-term and systematic use of alcohol. From a clinical point of view, this condition is characterized by dyspeptic disorders, hepatomegaly , icteric syndrome, and so on. In the event that this pathological process was diagnosed on time, and the patient promptly gave up alcohol, it is possible to stop its progression. The most dangerous complications are hepatic encephalopathy and hepatocellular carcinoma.

As we have already said, alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver is an extremely urgent problem for medicine. According to the latest data, there are about five million people living in Russia who regularly consume alcohol. However, it is worth noting that this disease does not develop in all drinking people, but only in thirty percent of them. However, it is alcohol in half of the cases that causes damage to the liver tissue.

At the moment, alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver occupies one of the leading positions among all causes of mortality in the population in the age range from thirty-five to sixty years. It has been noticed that men are several times more likely than women to face such a pathological process. However, it is in the female sex that it is much more severe due to the high level of estrogens in the body, which contribute to the more rapid progression of liver damage. As practice shows, if a person has given up alcohol in the early stages of this disease, the prognosis for life is relatively favorable. In the event that the patient continues to abuse alcoholic beverages, his life expectancy will most likely not exceed five years.

On average, the first symptoms of this disease appear ten years after the person began to abuse alcohol. However, in the presence of other predisposing factors, morphofunctional changes in the liver can progress much faster. First of all, these include hereditary predisposition, excessive consumption of too spicy and fatty foods, as well as concomitant pathologies from the liver. According to statistics, for a man to develop alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, it is enough to drink about fifty grams of pure ethyl alcohol daily. For women, this figure is approximately twenty grams.  

Due to the free radicals formed during the processing of ethyl alcohol, the cell membranes of hepatocytes are destroyed. Damage to the vascular endothelium is noted, which leads to a disruption in the supply of oxygen to the cells and further damage to them. Gradually, hepatocytes die, and fibrous tissue forms in their place . The occurring violations lead to inhibition of the functional activity of the liver and disability of the sick person. This is precisely the brief mechanism of development of alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver.

The classification of this pathological process includes three of its main stages: compensated, subcompensated and decompensated. With a compensated stage, the liver still manages to perform its functions, although morphological changes are already present in it. The subcompensated stage of this disease is established when liver failure is formed. The decompensated stage is characterized by complete liver failure, which leads to concomitant damage to almost all internal organs.

Symptoms of alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver

Concomitant symptoms will directly depend on the stage of this disease. As we have already said, the compensated stage is often not accompanied by any pronounced complaints. Sometimes a sick person indicates increased weakness and rapid fatigability, however, as a rule, he attributes this to other problems.  

With the further progression of the pathological process, symptoms such as decreased appetite and weight loss, an increase in liver size, recurrent nausea and other dyspeptic disorders are added . The weakness becomes even more pronounced. The skin and visible mucous membranes become yellow in color. There is an acceleration of heart rate and arterial hypotension.  

Men with this pathology are characterized by excess fat deposition on the thighs and abdomen, while the arms become unnaturally thin. The testicles undergo atrophic changes and erectile dysfunction develops. Another specific symptom is the shortening of the palmar flexor tendons, due to which flexion contracture is formed . Hematomas are often formed on the skin, and whitish stripes on the nail plates. Such patients often have fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity, as well as problems with respiratory function.

Diagnosis and treatment of the disease

This disease is diagnosed using general and biochemical blood tests, coagulogram. Of the instrumental methods, the leading role is given to ultrasound, which allows you to identify structural changes in the liver. Additionally, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging can be prescribed. The most informative are elastography and hepatic biopsy, followed by histological examination of the material obtained.

First of all, with established alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol must be completely excluded. Of the drugs, hepatoprotectors, ursodeoxycholic acid, protease inhibitors, and glucocorticosteroids are shown . In parallel, vitamin therapy is prescribed. If necessary, detoxification measures are carried out.

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