Your liver, which is the size of a football, is the biggest organ in your body and it’s also one of the most crucial. You will find your liver on the right side, just below your lower rib cage. This organ has very important tasks to do in order to keep you healthy.
It removes the toxins out of your body, supports the digestion process, but also stores the energy, which you can use later. It helps fight infections or blood clot, and has many other important functions in your body.
One of the most serious diseases that can affect your liver is known as cirrhosis. Read the article and find out what the symptoms and stages of the condition are. Also, learn how you can prevent cirrhosis and what the life expectancy is if you suffer from it.
What Is Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is an ongoing and long-term liver disease. It develops over long years, not giving any clear signs in the early stages. Cirrhosis is scarring to the liver tissue, which in consequence leads to the gradual replacement of healthy liver cells by scar tissue.
As a result, the liver affected by cirrhosis, slowly loses the power to perform all its important functions in the body. This situation is known as liver failure or the end-stage liver disease.
What Are the Stages of Cirrhosis
As cirrhosis usually develops over years, four different stages of the disease can be enumerated. Of course, the earlier cirrhosis is detected, the better chance is of full recovery.
Stage One of Cirrhosis
Stage one of cirrhosis is the mildest one and because of that also the most difficult to detect. It means, however, that your liver is severely damaged, but at this stage the changes are still reversible and there is a high chance that your liver will function normally if properly treated.
Not much scar tissue develops in this stage, but the liver is inflamed and swollen. The sufferer usually experiences extreme lack of energy and fatigue in stage one of cirrhosis.
Stage Two of Cirrhosis
In stage two of cirrhosis so called portal hypertension appears. It is the increased blood pressure in veins which are located in your liver. The weakened liver leads to esophageal varices, which means that the veins around your stomach and esophagus get ballooned or dilated.
Consequently, the veins disturb the blood flow to your liver and that leads to portal hypertension. As a result, more and more scar tissue develops in the liver, gradually replacing your healthy liver cells. At this point the liver is severely swollen and inflamed, but there is still some chance of at least partial reversal of the liver damage.
Stage Three of Cirrhosis
In stage three of cirrhosis a symptom known as ascites appears. It means that too much fluid accumulates in your abdominal cavity. The level of it can be checked by ultrasound imaging processes and for a medical professional it is a clear sign that the patient is in the advanced stage of cirrhosis.
At this point other unpleasant symptoms appear too. For example, the patient may suffer from skin itchiness, eczema, loss of weight and appetite, fatigue. The legs, ankles, and feet may become swollen, the skin turns yellow or extremely pale. The sufferer is often short of breath and feels extreme fatigue. Blood sugar level may change too.
Unfortunately, stage three is an advanced stage of cirrhosis. The liver damage is irreversible at this point and liver transplant may be the only option.
Stage Four of Cirrhosis
Stage four is the final stage of the disease, which requires an urgent liver transplant. At this point the disease is uncurable due to the vast level of scar tissue in the liver. The esophageal varices rupture, which leads to gastrointestinal bleeding.
The symptoms described in stage three of the disease intensify. Apart from them, the sufferer experiences high fever, hand tremors, personality changes, abdominal cavity infections, kidney failure, and extreme sleepiness. At this point it’s impossible to cure the disease.
What Are the Symptoms of Cirrhosis
The symptoms caused by cirrhosis result from two main functions. The first one is gradual liver failure, which makes it impossible to carry out its essential tasks. The second factor results from changes in the shape and size of the liver due to scarring.
The problem with cirrhosis is that it can give no clear sign for many years. Despite the fact the liver is already severely damaged, the first symptoms aren’t specific as they include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and consequently weight loss, loss of sex drive, and nausea. It rarely happens that a doctor suspects cirrhosis based on such general and unclear symptoms.
More specific symptoms often appear when cirrhosis is in the advanced stage and some complications from other organs appear. One of the most typical signs of any liver disease is jaundice. Skin and eyes turn yellow due to the accumulation of bilirubin in the tissues. Bilirubin is produced in the liver when old blood cells break down.