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Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis of the Liver Symptoms and Causes 

Cirrhosis of the liver is the result of chronic damage to the liver when scar tissue has replaced normal functioning liver tissue, progressively diminishing blood flow through the liver. As the normal liver tissue is lost, nutrients, hormones, drugs, and poisons are not processed effectively by the liver. In addition, protein production and other substances produced by the liver are inhibited.

The growth of scar tissue or fibrosis is due to infection, inflammation, injury or even healing. The overgrowth of scar tissue can occur in almost any organ. Fibrosis in the liver can inhibit the organ's proper functioning and is usually the result of cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis of the Liver Symptoms

Symptoms of cirrhosis vary, depending on severity of the condition. Mild cirrhosis may not exhibit any symptoms. Although, each individual may experience symptoms differently, the most common symptoms of liver cirrhosis include:

  • Abnormal nerve function
  • Ascites – fluid build-up in the abdominal cavity
  • Breast enlargement in men
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Curling of fingers (Dupuytren's contracture of the palms)
  • Gallstones
  • Hair loss
  • Itching
  • Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver encephalopathy
  • Muscle loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Portal hypertension
  • Redness of palms
  • Salivary gland enlargement in cheeks
  • Shrinking of testes
  • Spider-like veins in the skin
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Cirrhosis of the Liver Causes

The most common cause of liver cirrhosis is alcohol abuse. Other causes include the following:

  • Hepatitis and other viruses
  • Use of certain drugs
  • Chemical exposure
  • Bile duct obstruction
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Obstruction of outflow of blood from the liver (i.e., Budd-Chiari syndrome)
  • Heart and blood vessel disturbances
  • Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • High blood galactose levels
  • High blood tyrosine levels at birth
  • Glycogen storage disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • Hereditary accumulation of too much copper (Wilson's Disease) or iron (hemochromatosis)