What is Cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is a serious condition in which healthy tissue in the liver is permanently destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. The condition progresses gradually over the years causing your liver to eventually fail.
The two most common causes of cirrhosis in the UK are drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and suffering from hepatitis C.
How common is Cirrhosis?
More than 4,000 people in the UK die from cirrhosis each year, and the numbers seem to be increasing.
What are the symptoms of Cirrhosis?
There are few symptoms of the early stages of cirrhosis, but as the scar tissue builds up it causes tiredness, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, itchiness, tenderness, blotchy red palms and problems sleeping.
In more severe cases, symptoms include jaundice, hair loss, oedema, dark urine, black tarry stools, frequent nosebleeds, bruising, vomiting blood, muscle cramps, rapid heartbeat, memory loss, staggering when walking, and personality changes.
How is Cirrhosis treated?
If there is an underlying disease causing liver damage then this will be treated first. You may also be advised to cut down on alcohol intake and lose weight if you are obese.
Symptoms may be eased with a low sodium diet, tablets and creams. Advanced cirrhosis cannot be cured, but certain symptoms will be treated with injections, surgical procedures, medication and draining excess fluid. In severe cases a liver transplant will be required.
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