Cirrhosis of the liver: causes of development and symptoms

Liver cirrhosis is a dangerous disease in which normal parenchymal liver tissue degenerates into dense fibrous tissue. Such a pathology proceeds in a chronic form and, in the absence of the necessary medical care, can lead to liver failure, which threatens the life of a sick person.

Liver cirrhosis can develop at absolutely any age, but it is most often diagnosed in people over forty. At the same time, men are about three times more likely to suffer from this disease than female representatives. According to statistics, at present, the incidence of this pathology is approximately thirty cases per hundred thousand of the population.

The main cause of liver cirrhosis is alcohol. It is found that among people who regularly drink alcohol for five years, approximately thirty-five percent suffer from this disease. In second place in terms of frequency of occurrence is such a factor as viral hepatitis. At the same time, it is hepatitis B, D and C that play a role here. Hepatitis is accompanied by a chronic inflammatory process, which over time leads to the appearance of a fibrous component in the liver.

In addition, cirrhosis of the liver can be associated with various autoimmune and metabolic disorders in the body, drug and chemical intoxication, as well as diseases of the biliary system. In some cases, chronic parasitic infections play a role in the development of this disease. It is worth noting that in about thirty percent of sick people, the cause remains unclear.

The classification of this pathology includes several varieties, which are distinguished based on the reason for its development:

  • Alcoholic variety – symptoms of liver cirrhosis are caused by the systematic use of alcohol;
  • Viral variety – the pathological process develops against the background of the existing viral hepatitis;
  • Medicinal variety – fibrous tissue appears as a result of drug intoxication of the body, for example, with the uncontrolled use of cytostatics ;
  • Biliary variety – due to stagnation of bile at any of the stages of its excretion.

In addition, cirrhosis of the liver can be small- nodular, large-nodular and mixed. Small-knot form means that the diameter of the formed fibrous knots does not exceed three millimeters. In the case of a large-knot form, the dimensions of the knots are correspondingly more than three millimeters. However, most often this disease occurs in a mixed form.

Symptoms of liver cirrhosis

About twenty percent of sick people have no symptoms of liver cirrhosis. Often, this pathological process proceeds with very poor clinical manifestations. This is the main problem, since a person seeks medical help already at an advanced stage of the disease.

In the development of liver cirrhosis, several degrees are distinguished. The first degree is characterized by the presence of minimal symptoms. In some cases, the patient complains of moderate pain in the right hypochondrium, which occurs mainly after eating fatty foods. When conducting laboratory tests, you can find a slight decrease in bilirubin and prothrombotic index.

The second degree is called subcompensated . The clinical picture begins to manifest itself more actively. A sick person complains of frequent pains in the right hypochondrium, weight loss, as well as recurrent bouts of nausea. The general condition also suffers, which is accompanied by increased fatigue and malaise. In blood tests, a decrease not only in bilirubin and prothrombotic index, but also in the amount of albumin is determined .

The third degree is the most dangerous and unfavorable. The presence of such symptoms of liver cirrhosis as severe pain, rapidly progressing weight loss, frequent nausea with vomiting is characteristic. The skin and visible mucous membranes of a sick person become yellow, areas of hemorrhage appear on them. Recurrent nosebleeds may occur. The levels of bilirubin, prothrombotic index and albumin are at critical levels. It is at this stage that most complications arise.

To summarize, cirrhosis of the liver is accompanied by such clinical signs as:  

  • Pain syndrome in the right hypochondrium, which is poorly controlled by analgesics;
  • Jaundice accompanied by itchy skin;
  • Progressive weight loss;
  • Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity;
  • Epistaxis, spider veins and petechiae;
  • General malaise with a slight increase in body temperature.

As we have already said, this pathology can lead to severe complications. The most dangerous among them is acute or chronic liver failure, which poses a great threat to the life of a sick person. Other possible complications include portal hypertension, varicose veins in the digestive system and subsequent bleeding from them.    

Diagnostics and treatment of liver cirrhosis

The initial diagnostic methods are general and biochemical blood tests, as well as a coagulogram. From instrumental methods, ultrasound and computed tomography are used. However, the final diagnosis is based on the liver biopsy performed.

This disease necessarily implies adherence to a special diet. Its essence lies in the consumption of a balanced amount of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. In addition, alcohol is completely excluded. Of the drugs, hepatoprotectors are prescribed. If necessary, antiviral agents, diuretics and enteroseptics are used .

Disease prevention

First of all, for the prevention of this disease, you need to stop drinking too much alcohol. If a person is sick with hepatitis, then he should be treated in a timely manner. It is recommended that you eat well and lead an active lifestyle.  

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