Mental Health & Substance Abuse

Causes and symptoms of cirrhosis

The liver is located below the ribs and above the abdomen. The liver conducts various essential functions of the body like storing vitamins and sugar for using later to use by the body, creating blood clotting proteins, producing bile that further helps in absorbing the essential nutrients of the body and removing toxins from the system to purify the body. Cirrhosis is a health condition where severe scarring of the liver and poor functioning of the liver is seen in the terminal stages of chronic liver disease. Overexposure to toxins like viral infections and alcohol in the long-run causes the most scarring.

Causes of cirrhosis
Chronic alcohol abuse and long-term viral hepatitis C infection are the leading causes of cirrhosis in the country. Another common cause of cirrhosis is obesity. Obesity being the risk factor itself and when combined with hepatitis C and alcohol, the chances of various health conditions increase many folds including cirrhosis. Women who consume more than two alcoholic drinks every day for years are prone to develop cirrhosis. Similarly, men who consume more than three drinks every day for a long time may also be diagnosed with cirrhosis. Regularly drinking these amounts of alcohol for around 10 to 12 years usually causes cirrhosis. On the other hand, Hepatitis C is a condition that is contracted due to infected blood products, exposure to infected blood, or sexual intercourse. Exposure to infected blood is possible through sources like piercing, intravenous drug abuse, needle sharing, and tattooing. There are rare chances of being diagnosed with Hepatitis C due to blood transfusion as the country has rigorous standards of blood bank screenings. Apart from these two leading causes, other causes of cirrhosis are:

  • Inflammation caused by an autoimmune disease
    Genetics is the cause of autoimmune hepatitis. About 70% of the people who have been diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis are women according to the American Liver Foundation.
  • Damage caused to the bile ducts, that function to brain bile
    Primary biliary cirrhosis is one of the diseases where this condition has been observed.
  • Hepatitis B
    Hepatitis B damages the liver and causes inflammation. This can further lead to cirrhosis.
  • Disorders that influence the ability of the body to handle iron and copper
    The health conditions where this has been observed are Wilson’s disease and hemochromatosis.
  • Hepatitis D
    Cirrhosis can be caused due to this type of hepatitis as well. Usually, this condition is often observed in people who already have hepatitis B.
  • Certain medicines
    Consuming a lot of medications both over-the-counter drugs and prescription can lead to cirrhosis.

Symptoms of cirrhosis
The symptoms of cirrhosis are experienced as the liver is not able to break down toxins, to purify the blood, aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and fats, and production of clotting proteins. Usually, there are no early symptoms experienced until the condition has progressed to a certain degree. A bleeding nose, small spider-shaped arteries beneath the skin, jaundice, decreased appetite, anorexia, weakness, weight loss, and itchy skin. Impotence, difficulty in thinking clearly, swollen legs, swelling in the abdomen, and gynecomastia are some of the serious symptoms observed.