What is Cirrhosis ?
Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver does not function properly due to long-term damage. Typically, the disease comes on slowly over months or years. Early on, there are often no symptoms. Cirrhosis is a complication of liver disease which involves loss of liver cells and irreversible scarring of the liver.
In the early stages of cirrhosis, the liver continues to function. However, as cirrhosis gets worse and scar tissue replaces more healthy tissue, the liver will begin to fail. Chronic liver failure, which is also called end-stage liver disease, progresses over months, years, or even decades. With end-stage liver disease, the liver can no longer perform important functions or effectively replace damaged cells.
Cirrhosis is an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality in more developed countries, being the 14th most common cause of death worldwide but fourth in central Europe
Cause of Cirrhosis
Chronic Hepatitis C
Alcohol-related liver disease. Research suggests that drinking two or fewer drinks a day for women and three or fewer drinks a day for men may not injure the liver.3 Drinking more than these amounts leads to fat and inflammation in the liver, which over 10 to 12 years can lead to alcoholic cirrhosis.4
Hepatitis C. is a common cause of cirrhosis in Western Europe, North America, and many other parts of the world. Cirrhosis can also be caused by hepatitis B and D.
- Hemochromatosis– iron accumulates in the liver and other parts of the body.
- Wilson’s disease – copper accumulates in the liver and other parts of the body.
- Budd-Chiari syndrome
- There is thrombosis (blood clots) in the hepatic vein, the blood vessel that carries blood from the liver, leading to liver enlargement and the development of collateral vessels.
There are several known risk factors for developing cirrhosis. The most common risk factors are:
- Excess alcohol use – regular consumption of more than 1-2 alcoholic beverage a day for women or 2-3 alcoholic beverages a day for men over a long period of time can lead to liver cirrhosis. Patients with other risk factors for liver disease may develop cirrhosis with even less regular alcohol use.
- Infection with viral hepatitis – while not all patients who have chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) or the hepatitis C virus (HCV) will develop cirrhosis, chronic viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of liver disease in the world.
- Obesity and Diabetes – obesity and diabetes are both risk factors for a form of liver injury known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Over time NASH can lead to significant liver injury and cirrhosis. Not all patients with obesity or diabetes will develop NASH.
Signs and Symptoms of Cirrhosis
Symptoms come on gradually as the liver loses its ability to work properly. They include:
- tiredness and weakness
- bruising easily
- itchy skin
- yellowing of skin and whites of eyes (jaundice)
- fluid buildup in abdomen (ascites)
- appetite loss
- nausea and vomiting
- swelling in legs (oedema)
- weight loss
- very black, dark or tarry stool (poo)
- confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech
- fever and shivering
Spider-like blood vessels on skin
Danger Symptoms where medical help should be received immediately
- fever with high temperatures and shivers, often caused by an infection
- shortness of breath
- vomiting blood
- very dark or black tarry stools (faeces)
- periods of mental confusion or drowsiness.
Although these symptoms may seem very different, because your liver is responsible for so many different functions, if it stops working properly, a range of problems can result.
Complications of Liver Cirrhosis
- High blood pressure in the veins that supply the liver (portal hypertension).Cirrhosis slows the normal flow of blood through the liver, thus increasing pressure in the vein that brings blood from the intestines and spleen to the liver.
- Swelling in the legs and abdomen.Portal hypertension can cause fluid to accumulate in the legs (edema) and in the abdomen (ascites). Edema and ascites also may result from the inability of the liver to make enough of certain blood proteins, such as albumin.
- Enlargement of the spleen (splenomegaly).Portal hypertension can also cause changes to the spleen. Decreased white blood cells and platelets in your blood can be a sign of cirrhosis with portal hypertension.
- Portal hypertension can cause blood to be redirected to smaller veins, causing them to increase in size and become varices. Strained by the extra load, these smaller veins can burst, causing serious bleeding. Life-threatening bleeding most commonly occurs when veins in the lower esophagus (esophageal varices) or stomach (gastric varices) rupture. If the liver can’t make enough clotting factors, this also can contribute to continued bleeding. Bacterial infections are a frequent trigger for bleeding.
Other complications of Liver Cirrhosis
- If you have cirrhosis, your body may have difficulty fighting infections. Ascites can lead to spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, a serious infection.
- Cirrhosis may make it more difficult for your body to process nutrients, leading to weakness and weight loss.
- Buildup of toxins in the brain (hepatic encephalopathy).A liver damaged by cirrhosis isn’t able to clear toxins from the blood as well as a healthy liver can. These toxins can then build up in the brain and cause mental confusion and difficulty concentrating. Hepatic encephalopathy symptoms may range from fatigue and mild impairment in cognition to unresponsiveness or coma.
- Jaundice occurs when the diseased liver doesn’t remove enough bilirubin, a blood waste product, from your blood. Jaundice causes yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes and darkening of urine.
- Bone disease.Some people with cirrhosis lose bone strength and are at greater risk of fractures.
- Increased risk of liver cancer.A large proportion of people who develop liver cancer that forms within the liver itself have cirrhosis.
- Acute-on-chronic liver failure.Some people end up experiencing multiorgan failure. Researchers now believe this is a distinct complication in some people who have cirrhosis, but they don’t fully understand its causes.
Homeopathic Treatment of Liver Cirrhosis
Homeopathic medicine treat the underlying cause of cirrhosis of liver such as viral infections .genetic tendency .Bad effects of alcohol and metabolic changes .
Helps to control the scarring of tissues .And if homeopathy has started at the early stage(compensated stage ) it is possible to restore the altered function of the liver .
And if it is started at a later stage it can halt the further progress of the disease and prevent the patient from getting into the complication of portal hypertension .
Homeopathy can be started at any stage of the cirrhosis early or late, depending upon when one has chosen to opt for Homeopathy ,or depending upon till what stage disease has progressed .It can differentially give an individual a better quality of life by allaying his pain and reducing his discomfort .