Cirrhosis Causes, Risk Factors, Prevention And Treatment


The liver is severely scarred in cirrhosis. Many other types of liver disorders and ailments, including hepatitis and prolonged alcoholism, can contribute to this dangerous condition.

Your liver strives to heal itself each time it is damaged, whether the damage is the result of drinking too much alcohol or another factor, such as an infection. Scar tissue is created throughout the procedure. As cirrhosis progresses, scar tissue builds up and complicates the liver's ability to operate. Life-threatening cirrhosis has advanced stages.

Cirrhosis-related liver damage is typically irreversible. However, additional harm can be prevented if liver cirrhosis is detected early and the underlying cause is addressed. It could reverse under unusual circumstances.


Damage to the liver from a number of conditions and diseases can lead to cirrhosis.

Among the causes are:

  • Protracted alcoholism.
  • Viral hepatitis B, C, and D are still active.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a disorder in which fat accumulates in the liver.
  • Iron builds up in the body as a result of a condition called hemochromatosis.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis, a liver disease, is brought on by the body's immune system.
  • Primary biliary cholangitis
  • Induced biliary duct damage caused by primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Bile duct stiffening and scarring.
  • Wilson's illness is a condition where the liver accumulates copper.
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • A deficiency in alpha-1 antitrypsin.
  • A condition known as biliary atresia is characterised by improperly formed bile ducts.
  • Diseases of inherited sugar metabolism, such as galactosemia and glycogen
  • A disease of storage.
  • Alagille syndrome is a hereditary gastrointestinal condition.
  • A disease like syphilis or brucellosis.
  • Medications, such as isoniazid or methotrexate.

How to check if you have Cirrhosis?

If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, schedule a visit with your doctor.

Risk Factors

Overindulging in booze. A risk factor for cirrhosis is excessive alcohol use.

Weighing too much. Obesity raises the likelihood of ailments including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can both result in cirrhosis.

Viral hepatitis is present. Although chronic hepatitis is not usually the cause of cirrhosis, it is one of the leading causes of liver disease globally.


Cirrhosis typically stays undiagnosed until there has been severe liver damage. If symptoms do manifest, they may include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Bruising or bleeding easily.
  • Decrease in appetite.
  • Nausea.
  • Edoema is also known as swelling of the legs, feet, or ankles.
  • Loss of weight.
  • Rough skin.
  • Jaundice causes the skin and eyes to appear yellow.
  • Ascites is the medical term for fluid buildup in the abdomen.
  • The skin's blood vessels resemble spiders.
  • The palms of the hands are red.
  • Pale fingernails, especially on the thumb and index finger.
  • The fingertips spread out and have a rounder shape than typical when clubbing.
  • Loss or absence of menstruation for women unrelated to menopause.
  • Decrease of sex desire, testicular atrophy, gynecomastia, or enlargement of the breasts.
  • Fuzziness, sleepiness, or slurred speech.


By taking the following care of your liver, you can reduce your chance of developing cirrhosis:

  • If you have cirrhosis, avoid drinking. Alcohol should not be consumed if you have liver illness.
  • Adopt a balanced diet. Pick a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Choose lean protein sources and healthy carbohydrates. Limit the number of fried and fatty meals you eat.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Having too much body fat may affect your liver. Consult your doctor about a weight-loss plan if you are overweight or obese.
  • Cut down on your hepatitis risk. If you exchange needles and have unprotected intercourse, your chance of developing hepatitis B and C may increase. 
  • Inquire about hepatitis immunisations with your doctor.
  • Ask your doctor how you might lower your chances of developing liver cirrhosis.


The kind and severity of your liver damage will determine how you are treated for cirrhosis. The purpose of therapy is to prevent or treat cirrhosis symptoms and consequences while also slowing the development of scar tissue in the liver. If you have serious liver damage, you might need to be admitted to the hospital.

Treatment for the cirrhosis's underlying condition

By addressing the underlying cause of early cirrhosis, the liver's damage may be reduced. The choices consist of:

Addiction treatment for alcohol. People with cirrhosis from excessive drinking should try to limit their intake. If giving up alcohol proves difficult, your doctor can recommend a course for treating alcoholism. It is crucial to avoid drinking if you have cirrhosis because alcohol is harmful to the liver in any proportion.

Loss of weight. Losing weight and managing blood sugar levels may improve the health of those with cirrhosis brought on by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Hepatitis-controlling medications. Through targeted therapy of the hepatitis B or C viruses, medications may prevent additional harm to liver cells caused by these viruses.

Medications to treat further cirrhosis causes and symptoms. The advancement of some kinds of liver cirrhosis may be slowed by medication. For those with primary biliary cholangitis who receive an early diagnosis, medication may considerably slow the development of cirrhosis.

Other medications can treat specific symptoms including pain, exhaustion, and itching. Malnutrition brought on by cirrhosis may be treated with nutritional supplements. 

Treatment for cirrhosis complications

Any adverse effects of cirrhosis will be treated by your doctor, including:

A fluid accumulation throughout your body. A low-sodium diet and drugs that prevent the body from storing fluid can help treat ascites and oedema. It can be essential to have surgery to release the pressure or to have treatments to drain more severe fluid buildup.

Portal hypertension. Certain blood pressure drugs may be able to regulate the high pressure in the veins that supply the liver, known as portal hypertension, preventing major haemorrhage. 

An upper endoscopy will often be done by your doctor to check for potentially bleeding bulging veins in the stomach or oesophagus. Varices are the name for these veins.

If you get varices, you will probably require medication to reduce the bleeding possibility. You could require a surgery called a band ligation if you exhibit symptoms that indicate your varices are bleeding or are going to haemorrhage. A band ligation can halt the bleeding or lessen the chance that it will continue. In extreme circumstances, a tiny tube called a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt may need to be implanted in your vein to lower liver blood pressure.

Infections. You could be given antibiotics or other treatments for infections. 

Additionally, your doctor could advise becoming immunized against hepatitis, pneumonia, and influenza.

Increased risk of liver cancer. To look for signs of liver cancer, your doctor will likely prescribe routine blood tests and ultrasounds.

Liver encephalopathy. The accumulation of toxins in your body may be reduced with the use of medications.

Transplanting a liver

When the liver no longer functions effectively due to severe cirrhosis, a liver transplant may be the only available therapy. A liver transplant is a technique to replace all or part of your damaged liver with a healthy liver from a dead donor. One of the most frequent indications for a liver transplant is cirrhosis. In order to evaluate whether liver transplant candidates are healthy enough to recover well from surgery, they must undergo a battery of tests.

Due to the possibility that they would resume dangerous drinking following a liver transplant, those with alcoholic cirrhosis have traditionally been disqualified from being candidates for the procedure. However, recent research reveals that carefully chosen individuals with severe alcohol Post-transplant survival statistics for those with cirrhosis are comparable to those for people who have other kinds of liver disease.

If you have cirrhosis brought on by alcoholism, you would need to:

  • Locate a programme that assists those who suffer cirrhosis brought on by drinking.
  • Meet the program's requirements. These might include a lifelong commitment to abstinence from alcohol as well as any conditions imposed by the particular transplant facility.

Future potential remedies

Current cirrhosis therapies are being expanded by researchers, but thus far, their progress has been patchy. There are several possible paths of attack since cirrhosis has a wide range of causes and effects. If implemented early, a combination of improved screening, lifestyle modifications, and new medications may improve outcomes for persons with liver impairment.

The fibrosis that results in cirrhosis is being slowed or maybe reversed by medicines that precisely target liver cells. However, no targeted therapy is completely ready.

Complications of Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis complications may include:

Elevated blood pressure in the liver's supplying veins. Portal hypertension is the term for this disorder. Cirrhosis slows down the liver's normal blood flow. The vein that carries blood to the liver is under more strain as a result.

The abdomen and legs are swelling. Ascites and oedema are two disorders where fluid accumulates in the legs and abdomen as a result of high portal vein pressure. Edoema and ascites may also develop if the liver is unable to generate enough specific blood proteins like albumin.

Increase in spleen size. Portal hypertension may cause white blood cells and platelets to become stuck in the spleen. Splenomegaly is what happens as a result of the spleen enlarging. Lessened white blood cells and platelets in your blood might be the first sign of cirrhosis.

Bleeding. Blood flow to smaller veins may be shifted as a result of portal hypertension. These tiny veins may get strained by the added pressure and rupture, resulting in severe bleeding. Varices, commonly known as swollen veins in the oesophagus or stomach, are another complication of portal hypertension. There is a chance that the bleeding from these varices might be fatal. Bleeding may continue if the liver is unable to produce enough clotting factors.

Infections. Your body may have trouble fighting infections if you have cirrhosis. Bacterial peritonitis, a dangerous illness, can result from ascites.

Malnutrition. Your body may have a harder time processing nutrients as a result of cirrhosis, which can result in fatigue and weight loss.

Toxic buildup in the brain. A damaged liver can not remove toxins from the blood as effectively as a healthy liver can because of cirrhosis. Then, when these poisons accumulate in the brain, they might lead to mental disorientation and attention deficit disorder. Hepatic encephalopathy is the term for this. Hepatic encephalopathy can eventually lead to coma or irresponsibility.

Jaundice. When your damaged liver fails to eliminate enough bilirubin, a blood waste product, from your blood, you get jaundice. Yellowing of the skin, eye whites, and urine are all symptoms of jaundice.

Bone illness. Some cirrhotic patients experience bone thinning and an increased risk of fractures.

Increased chance of liver cancer. A significant fraction of those who develop liver cancer already have cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis that is acute on chronic. Occasionally, a person will experience multiorgan failure. Researchers currently concur that this is a problem for certain cirrhotic individuals. They do not completely comprehend its origins, though.


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Page last reviewed: May 23, 2023

Next review due: May 23, 2025

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