Can Liver Cirrhosis Go Away?
The answer is a strict No. It is not possible that liver cirrhosis once occurred to revert back to a healthy liver, even if the person uptakes some treatment methods the damage once occurred cannot be reversed. The treatment modalities employed will only slow the rate of damage or abstain the liver from further degeneration. If these modalities are not used then eventually liver failure arises, which ultimately leads to death of the individual. So, before learning to manage cirrhosis and put a stop to it one should be coherent with facts about the know how’s of cirrhosis, its clinical definition, its causes and how to diagnose it.
What is Cirrhosis and What Are Its Causes?
Liver cirrhosis can be defined as an irreversible scarring or fibrosis that occurs due to long term damage to the liver parenchymal cells, the hepatocytes. The condition takes a long time to appear clinically usually months to years. Prior to cirrhosis actually occurring there is some pathology which in time complicates to cirrhosis. These pathologies are wide ranging from infections to alcohol abuse. They are discussed in brief later. If the pathology is diagnosed at an early stage the liver has tremendous regenerating capability (highest among other organs of the body) and cirrhosis can be easily avoided.
There are a varied number of causes that lead to cirrhosis. Few of them are explained below:
Alcohol Abuse: This is one of the most prominent reasons for cirrhosis, chronic alcohol intake for many years (even decades). Alcohol has a negative effect on hepatic cells. It causes inflammation and then their death eventually. It starts by altering the metabolism of the energy components (carbohydrates, proteins and fats), it also leads to formation of acetaldehyde and other reactive substances that are toxic to the liver.
Hepatitis: Among this the common ones are hepatitis- b and hepatitis- c. The hepatitis should occur chronically or there should be regular recurrence of the disease to complicate into cirrhosis. A Hepatitis-D co-infection with Hepatitis-B accelerates the disease to cirrhosis phase.
Fatty Liver – Fatty liver is one of the foremost symptoms seen in alcoholics but it can also arise in non-alcoholics particularly in patients of Diabetes Mellitus, Coronary Artery Disease, Obese and severely malnourished individuals.
Auto-Immune Diseases: In these conditions the body’s immune systems attacks its own liver cells causing cell death. It is seen commonly in autoimmune hepatitis.
Biliary Cholangitis: Acute primary biliary cholangitis is also one of the cause in which there is destruction of the bile duct subsequently causing liver damage.
Wilson’s Disease: In this condition there is accumulation of copper.
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis: A cholestatic disorder which also has association with inflammatory bowel disease.
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency
Hemochromatosis: Excessive accumulation of iron in the body.
Parasitic Infections: Example of this is schistosomiasis.
Drugs toxic to liver: Examples of these include chronic use of NSAIDs, Methotrexate, Glucocorticoids, Isoniazid (anti tubercular drug).
What are the Ways To Diagnose Liver Cirrhosis?
There are numerous ways by which any abnormality in the liver functions can be checked. Although it has to be kept in mind that in early stages of cirrhosis the condition remains asymptomatic mostly and is discovered by chance.
Liver Function Tests (LFT) – The primary way to diagnose liver functioning. Blood sample is collected from the patient for this test. In cirrhosis the findings are:-
Aminotransferases both AST and ALT are raise
Bilirubin levels in blood is higher than normal
Proteins (Albumin) – Falls
Creatinine levels are also increased
Prothrombin time is raised markedly signifying liver damage.
Blood Tests: Normal CBC and TLC may indicate neutropenia, thrombocytopenia or some platelet disorder implying liver damage.
Imaging Studies: These include:-
Liver Biopsy: This is done when the above tests are inconclusive. This has the highest specificity among all tests but it is an invasive procedure.
Test for Hepatitis antibodies.
The condition usually manifests due to alcohol abuse and hepatitis infection but there are several other reasons. For diagnosing cirrhosis, LFT, Imaging Studies and Biopsy play a prominent role.
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