Liver cirrhosis is a severe chronic disease that tends to progress steadily. The essence of this pathological process is that liver cells die as a result of chronic inflammation. In turn, this leads to the replacement of normal tissues of this organ with a fibrous connective component.
Liver cirrhosis is quite common. Moreover, men suffer from this disease about three times more often than women. It is worth noting that the most common cause of this disease in men is alcohol dependence. It leads to the appearance of connective tissue in the liver in about forty percent of cases. As a rule, this pathological process progresses over many years, however, there is a possibility of its rather rapid development.
The liver is one of the organs of the digestive system. Most of it is located in the right half of the upper floor of the abdominal cavity. On average, the weight of this organ is about one thousand eight hundred grams. The liver has two large lobes and is brownish red. The main structural unit of the liver is hepatocytes . First of all, this organ is responsible for the detoxification function, which consists in the destruction of poisonous and toxic substances entering the body. In addition, bile is formed in its cells, which subsequently enters the gallbladder. Another important function of the liver is metabolic function. In other words, the liver takes part in the metabolism of fat, carbohydrate and protein structures.
As we have already said, the main reason for the formation of liver cirrhosis is alcohol dependence. In the event that a person regularly uses more than one hundred milliliters of ethanol, the likelihood of developing such a pathology in him increases several times. Research indicates that people who have been addicted to alcohol for more than five years suffer from cirrhosis in about thirty-five percent of cases.
Viral hepatitis is another common cause of liver cirrhosis symptoms. At the same time, hepatitis C causes fibrotic changes in the liver most quickly . However, hepatitis B and hepatitis D also often provoke liver cirrhosis. Other predisposing factors include impaired outflow of bile from the bile ducts, long-term use of toxic drugs and metabolic disorders. In some cases, even autoimmune processes in the body can play a role in the formation of this pathology.
Depending on the morphological changes that appear in the liver, this disease is divided into a small-node form and a large-node form. Small-knot form implies the formation of multiple connective tissue nodes, the diameter of which does not exceed three millimeters. With a large-knot form, nodes are formed, the dimensions of which are more than three millimeters in diameter. In addition, there is also a mixed form that combines both previous options.
Symptoms of liver cirrhosis
As we have already said, the development of liver cirrhosis occurs gradually. In about twenty percent of this pathological process occurs without any clinical manifestations. In most cases, the initial complaint with which a sick person turns is a moderate deterioration in general well-being.
The earliest symptoms of liver cirrhosis are recurrent abdominal distention and dull pain in the right hypochondrium. An important point is that, as a rule, the onset of pain is provoked by gross violations in the diet, as well as the use of alcoholic beverages. In addition, it should be noted that the pain syndrome in this case does not disappear after taking painkillers. A patient with this disease may complain that he is quickly satiated with food, as well as itchy skin.
Over time, such symptoms of liver cirrhosis as yellowing of the skin and visible mucous membranes, accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, and also a decrease in body weight join. In such patients, there is a periodic slight increase in body temperature, increased bleeding and the appearance of spider veins. Long-term edema and increased weakness are present.
The most dangerous complication of liver cirrhosis is the gradually developing liver failure. Moreover, this complication can be both acute and chronic. In very many patients, as a result of this pathological process, portal hypertension is formed, which can lead to venous bleeding.
Diagnosis of liver cirrhosis
First of all, for the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis, it is necessary to carefully collect anamnesis from a sick person, his complaints, and also conduct a general examination. However, such events do not allow us to speak with precision about this disease. To confirm the diagnosis, a biochemical blood test should be prescribed , in which the levels of liver enzymes and both fractions of bilirubin will be increased. In addition, it is recommended to use an ultrasound examination of the abdomen or computed tomography. The final method that allows you to choose the tactics of treatment is a liver biopsy.
Treatment and prevention of disease
All patients with cirrhosis must adhere to a special diet that completely excludes alcohol. Of the drugs, hepatoprotectors are used. In addition, medications are prescribed to combat the underlying pathology. They can be represented by antiviral drugs, glucorticosteroids, and so on.
First of all, the methods of prevention include refusal to drink alcohol. It is necessary to timely identify and begin treatment of viral hepatitis and other diseases that can provoke the appearance of fibrous tissue in the hepatic structures.