Cirrhosis is a condition where in liver slowly deteriorates and malfunctions due to chronic injury. Healthy liver tissue is gradually replaced with scar tissue, partially blocking blood flow through the liver. Scarring impairs the liver’s ability to control infections; remove bacteria and toxins from the blood; process nutrients, hormones, and drugs; make proteins that regulate blood clotting; and produce bile to help absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins.
Cirrhosis could develop due to heavy alcohol consumption, or chronic hepatitis C. Many people with cirrhosis have more than one cause of liver damage. Cirrhosis is not caused by trauma to the liver or other acute, or short-term, causes of damage. Generally years of chronic injury are required to cause cirrhosis.
People with cirrhosis generally do not experience any symptoms in the early stages of liver disease. However, as the disease progresses the following symptoms could be experienced: Weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, spider-like blood vessels on the skin, and abdominal pain and bloating when fluid accumulates in the abdomen.
As liver function deteriorates, one or more complications such as edema, ascites, portal hypertension, splenomegaly, jaundice, hepatic encephalopathy, or liver carcinoma may develop. In certain patients, complications could be the first signs of the disease.