Cirrhosis is the late stage of liver scarring caused by other diseases and conditions, such as chronic alcoholism, hepatitis, genetic disorders, certain medication or infection. It occurs as a result of damage to the liver as the organ attempts to repair itself, which leads to a build-up of scarring.
Signs of cirrhosis often do not appear until the later stages of scarring when damage is extensive. Symptoms include fatigue, bruising and bleeding more easily, itching skin, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea, swelling in the legs, weight loss, confusion. Testicular atrophy and breast enlargement may also be signs of cirrhosis in men.
Other complications may arise as a result of cirrhosis, such as increased risk of infection, malnutrition, bone disease, increased risk of liver cancer, liver failure, or hepatic encephalopathy (a build-up of toxins in the brain).
The risk of cirrhosis may be reduced by eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, minimizing exposure to hepatitis, and maintaining a healthy weight. If diagnosed early, the causes of cirrhosis may be treated to reduce the risk of further damage to the liver. If the damage is extensive, a liver transplant may be necessary. drug classes commonly used to treat cirrhosis include thiazide diuretics, aldosterone antagonists, loop diuretics, bile acid agents, and potassium-sparing and thiazide diuretic combinations.