Cirrhosis Isn’t Only Caused by Alcohol
There are many well-known facts about the excessive consumption of alcohol — it can damage your liver, increase the likelihood of getting into a car accident, and create problems in your relationships and your job. And these are just the tip of the iceberg. But, when it comes to liver health, is alcoholism the only cause of cirrhosis?
What is Cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is one of the complications that can result from liver disease. It occurs when there is scarring and a loss of liver cells. Every time your liver is injured, it begins a healing process that involves scar tissue. The more often the liver goes through stress, the more scar tissue it creates as it tries to repair itself. When the scarring becomes extreme, the result is cirrhosis. Once this damage has been done, it cannot be reversed.
Causes of Cirrhosis
While alcoholism is a cause for cirrhosis, it isn’t the only reason a person can develop the condition. Cirrhosis can also be the result of having any of the following health issues:
- Hepatitis B
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Wilson’s Disease
- Being overweight or obese
- Certain medications
Symptoms of Cirrhosis
Symptoms of cirrhosis only appear once the scarring is advanced. Therefore, if you notice any of them, schedule a visit to your doctor as soon as possible. The most common signs include:
- Swelling of the abdomen due to ascites
- Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
- Easy bruising
- Loss of appetite
- Itchy skin
- Red palms of your hand
- Capillaries become visible on the skin of the abdomen
As the disease progresses, symptoms can worsen and also include the following:
- Fast heartbeat
- Fluid retention in ankles and feet
- Muscle cramps
- Stools become very pale or black
- Vomiting blood
Treatment for Cirrhosis
Treatment requires lifestyle changes. While the scarring is irreversible, you can take steps to prevent additional scarring. These include:
1. Eating Healthily
Plant-based meals, whole grains, and lean sources of protein provide you with nutrients your body needs. Also, make it a point to limit sodium and sugar, since these require your liver to work harder.
2. Review Your Medications
Talk to your doctor about whether you can modify your medication intake, since cirrhosis makes it more difficult for your liver to process medicines. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
3. Controlling Blood Pressure to the Portal Vein
The portal vein distributes blood from the liver to the spleen, stomach, pancreas, and intestines. Cirrhosis can cause blood to collect excessively in the portal vein, causing high blood pressure.
While you may have to limit or discontinue the use of certain medications, your doctor may prescribe oral antiviral drugs to control damage caused by Hepatitis. In the alternative, your doctor may order injected medications.
5. Cancer Screenings
People with cirrhosis of the liver are at greater risk of developing liver cancer. Therefore, as part of your treatment, your doctor may order regular blood testing and imaging.
If you have cirrhosis, let us help you.
At Pinnacle Research, we specialize in the exploration of disease. We work with more than 70 referring physicians in San Antonio and Austin, providing clinical trials in liver disease.
Contact us today to explore your options and discuss how we can help you.