Liver cirrhosis means that the liver is damaged and it no longer works properly. Often this is because you have been drinking a lot of alcohol for several years, but you can also get liver cirrhosis for other reasons. The treatment depends on what caused the disease. It is important not to drink alcohol if you have liver cirrhosis.
Symptoms of liver cirrhosis
It may be difficult to notice the symptoms at the beginning of the disease, as they may be weak. Many symptoms are also common for other reasons.
When the function of life becomes worse, it is common to have one or more of the following symptoms:
- You’re getting tired.
- You’re feeling bad.
- You lose weight.
- You get stomach ache.
When you have had liver cirrhosis for a while you can get the symptoms that together are called jaundice:
- The skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow.
- The urine becomes darker.
- The stools become brighter.
- The skin itches.
Eventually you may have other symptoms of liver cirrhosis:
- The stomach, feet and calves swell.
- You can vomit blood.
- You get bruises easier and it takes longer to stop bleeding, for example if you get a wound.
When and where should I seek care?
Contact a health care provider if you think you have liver cirrhosis, or if you think you are at risk for liver cirrhosis
You can contact many receptions by logging in.
Seek care at any health center you want
You can seek care at any medical center or open specialist clinic you want throughout the country. Sometimes referral to the open specialized care is required.
When you come to the doctor, you can tell the following:
- What symptoms you have and how long you have had them.
- What your alcohol habits look like.
- If you are using any medicines or herbal remedies.
You may also submit blood tests .
You may need to investigate more
Your doctor may want to examine you more. Then you usually get a referral. Examples of examinations are ultrasound and liver biopsy. It is a study where the doctor takes tissue samples from the liver.
What can I do for myself?
There are some things you can do to keep your liver from being damaged even more.
Important not to drink alcohol
It is very important to stop drinking alcohol altogether, if you drink alcohol. Alcohol damages the liver even more.
Talk to your doctor if you need help stopping drinking. There is treatment and support available .
Be careful about medicines
Use only the medicines and the dosages your doctor tells you to use. You can also ask your pharmacist if you are unsure.
Do not use herbal remedies. Both medicines and herbal medicines can damage the liver even more.
Treatment of liver cirrhosis
The treatment of liver cirrhosis depends on what has caused liver cirrhosis. For example, you may receive treatment for hepatitis or treatment for hepatitis C, if the liver damage is due to them. You can get treatment for alcohol dependence, if the damage is due to alcohol.
The symptoms are treated
You also get treatment for the symptoms of liver cirrhosis you have. For example, you may be given medicines that relieve skin itching, or liquid medicines if you have swollen feet and legs. You can also get help from a dietician with what to eat, if your doctor thinks it is necessary.
A new liver
The liver’s injuries cannot heal. You may need to get a new liver if the liver continues to deteriorate, despite treatment. Getting a new liver is called a transplant.
It is a great effort for the body to get a new liver. The treatment before and after the transplant is also demanding. The body must therefore be in good shape for the transplant to go well.
You need to meet some requirements to get a new liver. Not drinking alcohol is one of the requirements.
What happens in the body?
The liver cleanses the blood and stores fat and sugar. It also breaks down certain substances, such as alcohol and drugs. It also has significance for some of the body’s hormones and for the blood’s ability to stop bleeding.
The liver stores fat
The liver can start storing larger amounts of fat. It’s called having fatty liver . This may be because you drink a lot of alcohol or weigh too much. Fatty liver is common and usually not serious.
You may not notice that you have fatty liver. It is most often detected by blood tests or by sampling from the liver, so-called liver biopsy .
Fatty liver can sometimes cause the liver to become inflamed. In inflammation, the cells of the liver are destroyed.
Liver cirrhosis is when the liver no longer works
Liver cirrhosis is when a large part of the liver’s cells have been destroyed and the liver is no longer functioning properly. The liver has been inflamed for a long time, usually several years.
You get the various symptoms when the liver is not functioning properly. For example, you get the symptoms called jaundice when the liver cannot secrete a yellow substance called bilirubin. It is the high levels of bilirubin in the body that make the eye whites and skin turn yellowish.
Liver cirrhosis is also called cirrhosis of the liver.
What does liver cirrhosis depend on?
A common cause of liver cirrhosis is that a lot of alcohol has been consumed for a long time, usually for several years. But it can also depend on other things:
- hepatitis B, such as hepatitis b or hepatitis C
- some drugs, sometimes due to high doses
- diseases, for example, some unusual autoimmune diseases.
When the liver is damaged, the pressure inside it increases, and in the large blood vessels that lead to the liver. The increased pressure can cause several injuries:
- Hernia in the blood vessels of the esophagus. A hernia is when a blood vessel swells. The hernia can break and you then vomit blood. A broken hernia can be very serious.
- Damage inside the stomach. They can lead to bleeding ulcers .
- That the stomach swells up. This is because fluid is collected around all organs in the stomach. It is also called as cities.
- Damage to the kidneys. Their function becomes worse and you can get kidney failure .
The brain is damaged when the liver can no longer purify the blood. Then you can behave differently than you usually do. You may also have less memory and become confused. Without treatment, the injuries can get worse and eventually you can become unconscious.
Liver cirrhosis also increases the risk of liver cancer .
Living with liver cirrhosis
How much your life is affected depends on how much the liver is damaged and what symptoms you have. Liver cirrhosis is a disease you have throughout your life.
You may have mild symptoms if the damage is not so great
The body can often replace the liver’s functions if the damage is not so great. You then have quite a few and mild symptoms. It is called having a compensated liver cirrhosis. You can have this form of liver cirrhosis for a long time.
You may not need to notice your illness, but may live as you did before being diagnosed. But it is very important that you do not drink alcohol despite it.
You need to have your liver examined periodically if you have compensated liver cirrhosis. This is among other things for detecting liver cancer, since the risk of liver cancer is greater if you have compensated liver cirrhosis. How often you need to have your liver examined depends on how damaged it is.
When the damage gets bigger
You become worse when the body can no longer replace the functions of the liver. It is called having a decompensated liver cirrhosis. Then you usually need more treatment. If you have severe symptoms, you may need to receive hospital care.
You should understand the information you receive
In order to be able to participate in your care and make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare staff. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask to have the information printed to read it peacefully.
You may have the right to receive interpreting assistance. You may also have the right to receive interpreting assistance if you have a hearing impairment.