Chronic Liver Disease:
Chronic liver failure develops more slowly than acute liver failure. It can take months or even years before you exhibit any symptoms. Chronic liver failure is often the result of cirrhosis, which is usually caused by long-term alcohol use or viral infections like hepatitis b and c. Cirrhosis occurs when healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue.
During Chronic liver failure, your liver becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes the formation of scar tissue over time. As your body replaces healthy tissue with scar tissue, your liver begins to fail.
The liver is the body’s largest internal organ. It lies up under your ribs on the right side of your belly.
The liver does many important things including:
- Removes waste from the body, such as toxins and medicines
- Makes bile to help digest food
- Stores sugar that the body uses for energy
- Makes new proteins
Common causes of Chronic Liver Failure include:
Long-term alcohol consumption
Autoimmune liver disease
Non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
Hemochromatosis: inherited disorder which causes your body to absorb and store too much iron. It can build up in your liver and cause cirrhosis.
Your symptoms may vary, depending on how severe your cirrhosis is. Mild cirrhosis may not cause any symptoms at all.
Symptoms may include:
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Fluid buildup in the belly (ascites)
- Easy bruising
- GI bleeding either blood in vomiting or stool
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Muscle loss
- Low energy and weakness (fatigue)
- Confusion as toxins build up in the blood
- Kidney failure
Your healthcare provider will take a detailed history of your past health. Then physical examination will be performed to look for sign of chronic liver disease.
You may also have tests including:
- Blood tests: These will include liver function tests to see if the liver is working the way it should. You may also have tests to see if your blood is able to clot.
- Ultrasound: It uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs.
- CT scan: This is an imaging test that uses series of X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. A CT scan shows details of the liver & other organs, bones, muscles and fat.
- MRI: This test makes detailed pictures of organs and structures inside your body. It uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy. A dye may be shot (injected) into your vein. The dye helps the liver and other organs to be seen more clearly on the scan.
- Endoscopy: A lighted flexible camera is placed through your mouth into your upper digestive tract to look for enlarged blood vessels that are at risk of bleeding because of your cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis is a progressive liver disease that happens over time. The damage to your liver can sometimes reverse or improve if the trigger is gone, such as by treating a viral infection or by not drinking alcohol.
The goal of treatment is to slow down the buildup of scar tissue and prevent or treat other health problems.
In many cases, you may be able to delay or stop any liver damage. If you have hepatitis, it may be treated to delay the worsening of your liver disease.
- Eating a healthy diet which is low in sodium
- Avoid alcohol consumption
- Managing other health problems that happen because of cirrhosis
Talk to your doctor before taking prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, or vitamins.
If you have severe cirrhosis which can’t be managed medically, liver transplant is the only option. Other treatments may be specific to your cause of cirrhosis, such as controlling excessive iron or copper levels, treating viral infection using antivirals or using immune-suppressing medicines if it is autoimmune related cirrhosis.