Cirrhosis, the last stage of liver disease, is now among the 20 major causes of death in Germany. Liver biopsy is frequently done when the origin of the cirrhosis is unknown. The disease develops over years or even decades. Diagnosis is made from signs of liver disease seen in the skin, enlargement of the liver, and abnormal blood tests, such as elevated serum bilirubin.
Cirrhosis can be the long-term result of fatty liver disease related to alcohol abuse in some patients diagnosed with fatty liver. It may result from hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Obesity, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol abuse are the most common risk factors for fatty liver leading to cirrhosis. Other causes are toxicity, allergy, auto-immunity, infections, vascular and inherited tendencies.
Prevention depends on exploring the underlying causes of cirrhosis. Early diagnosis of chronic liver disease and focusing on the risk factors in disease progression are our best ways of preventing cirrhosis. Early testing by the doctor may include evaluation of the esophagus and stomach with a scope, a sonogram, and enzyme blood levels. The speed of developing cirrhosis from fatty liver caused by hepatitis C is increased by the consumption of alcohol, especially after the age of 40. In hepatitis B, progression to cirrhosis depends more upon the viral load of the body.
Treatments of benefit include antiviral therapy, lowering of immunity in autoimmune disease, treatment of iron overload (hemochromatosis), copper overload (Wilson’s disease), and abstinence from use or abuse of alcohol. Drinking two or more cups of coffee per day slows the progression of scarring in cirrhosis. Discontinuation of smoking helps in the prevention of cirrhosis.
Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) is more likely to develop in a cirrhotic liver, and prevention of cirrhosis lowers the risk of developing HCC. If the underlying disease is autoimmune hepatitis, the risk of cirrhosis developing into HCC is low. If hepatitis B is the underlying disease, the risk of developing HCC is high. Many patients who are found to have HCC have underlying undiagnosed cirrhosis.
CONCLUSION: Chronic liver disease develops slowly. Early diagnosis can prevent or slow the development of cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer.
NOTE: Liver disease is known as hepatic disease, also. Look for information on the use of milk thistle, dandelion and other herbs in the case of liver disease. Fatty liver disease is known as steatosis.
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Summary #931. nutrientmedicine