Liver cirrhosis: What it means and how it affects you
Liver cirrhosis is a serious, irreversible condition caused by severe damage to the liver. It is marked by the gradual replacement of healthy liver tissue with scar tissue and is commonly seen in patients with a prolonged liver ailment. In this blog, we have elaborated on how cirrhosis can affect the liver with the help of experts specialising in liver cirrhosis treatment in Gurugram.
How cirrhosis affects the liver?
The liver is the largest organ that plays a vital role in various important functions that are crucial for our overall health. It not only helps to purify the blood, but is also the factory and storehouse of various enzymes and chemicals that are needed by our body to function optimally. There is a wide spectrum of diseases and ailments that can disrupt the smooth functioning of the liver and some can even give rise to serious, life-threatening complications. Cirrhosis is one such condition, seen in patients with advanced liver disease. It refers to the permanent scarring of the liver, which can gradually lead to liver failure.
In cirrhosis, the scar tissue, so formed, does not allow normal circulation of blood within the liver, resulting in raised venous pressure called as portal hypertension. Unless treated and controlled on time, this condition is progressive in nature, eventually replacing the entire liver with non-functioning scar tissue, often giving rise to the need for a liver transplant.
Complications that you need to watch out for:
As mentioned earlier, cirrhosis is marked by the gradual degeneration of liver function, resulting in various complications. These include:
- Portal hypertension - It is marked by the increased pressure of blood in the portal venous system. This involves the portal vein, i.e. the major vein that supplies blood to the liver, as well as its branches.
- Swelling in the legs and abdomen - This is a result of portal hypertension and the inability of the liver to produce important proteins like albumin. The increased blood pressure in the portal vein can lead to the diversion of fluids towards the abdomen (ascites) and limbs (edema).
- Spleen enlargement - Also known as splenomegaly. As per the top liver doctor in Gurugram, the complication manifests in patients who have developed portal hypertension, which leads to the abnormal trapping and destruction, of red & white blood cells and platelets in the spleen.
- Bleeding – a scarred liver in cirrhosis causes resistance to the flow of blood through the liver, leading to its build-up in the portal vein. This blood is automatically directed towards the smaller branches, leading to formation of varices. Increased and prolonged pressure can cause these varices to rupture, resulting in internal bleeding. Since the liver is not able to produce enough clotting factors, the bleeding is quite difficult to stop and can prove to be life-threatening.
- Increased susceptibility to Infections - The liver also plays an important role in regulating our immune response as it not only helps to purify the blood of various wastes, dead cells and toxins but also aids in clearing various disease-causing microbes. Cirrhosis prevents the liver from getting rid of these and as such there are significantly high risks of infections.
- Malnutrition - The liver aids in the healthy digestion of food by continuously producing bile. Cirrhosis can prevent the liver from doing so, as a result of which our body is not able to process the food that we eat. As such, most of the essential nutrients that our body needs are excreted as waste. This is the reason why patients with liver cirrhosis tend to lose weight unintentionally.
To know more about the various complications associated with liver cirrhosis, consult the best liver doctor in Gurugram today.
Dr. Ankur Garg,
HOD and Senior Consultant, HPB Surgery & Liver Transplant,
Sanar International Hospitals