Symptoms and Signs of Cirrhosis of the Liver: Symptoms and Treatment

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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Cirrhosis of the Liver: Symptoms and Treatment

Cirrhosis refers to scarring of the liver with loss of normal liver cells. It develops as a complication of a number of different conditions that can cause liver damage. Alcohol abuse and alcohol damage to the liver is a common cause of cirrhosis, along with viral hepatitis B and C. However, there are other causes of cirrhosis. Toxic metals and other chemicals may cause liver damage leading to scarring. In certain genetic diseases, toxic metals or fats accumulate in the liver to abnormal amounts. Autoimmune liver disease in which the body's immune system attacks the liver is another potential cause.

Some people with cirrhosis may have few or no symptoms or signs of liver disease. Others may show some common symptoms and signs of cirrhosis including jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, fatigue, weakness, and loss of appetite. Other associated symptoms can include itching and easy bruising due to decreased production by the liver of the substances needed for blood clotting. Individuals with cirrhosis also develop symptoms and signs from the complications of cirrhosis like hepatic encephalopathy or ascites.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.