Cirrhosis

Definition

Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver and poor liver function. It is the last stage of chronic liver disease.

Causes

Cirrhosis is the end result of chronic liver damage caused by chronic liver disease. Common causes of chronic liver disease in the United States are:

Less common causes of cirrhosis include:

Symptoms

There may be no symptoms, or symptoms may come on slowly, depending on how well the liver is working.

Early symptoms include:

As liver function worsens, symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

Your doctor will do a physical exam to look for:

You may have the following tests to measure liver function:

Other tests to check for liver damage include:

You will need a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

 

Treatment

LIFESTYLE CHANGES

Some things you can do to help take care of your liver disease are:

MEDICINES FROM YOUR DOCTOR

OTHER TREATMENTS

When cirrhosis progresses to end-stage liver disease, a liver transplant may be needed.

Support Groups

You can often ease the stress of illness by joining a liver disease support group whose members share common experiences and problems.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Cirrhosis is caused by scarring of the liver. The liver cannot heal or return to normal function once damage is severe. Cirrhosis can lead to serious complications.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

Get emergency medical help right away if you have:

Prevention

Don't drink alcohol heavily. Talk to your doctor if you are worried about your drinking. Take steps to prevent getting or passing hepatitis B or C.


Review Date: 10/13/2013
Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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