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Cirrhosis of the Liver
What are the complications of Cirrhosis of the Liver?
Loss of liver function affects the body in many ways. Following are the common problems, or complications, caused by cirrhosis.
Edema and ascites. When the liver loses its ability to make the protein albumin, water accumulates in the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites).
Bruising and bleeding. When the liver slows or stops production of the proteins needed for blood clotting, a person will bruise or bleed easily. The palms of the hands may be reddish and blotchy with palmar erythema.
Jaundice. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes that occurs when the diseased liver does not absorb enough bilirubin.
Itching. Bile products deposited in the skin may cause intense itching.
Gallstones. If cirrhosis prevents bile from reaching the gallbladder, gallstones may develop.
Toxins in the blood or brain. A damaged liver cannot remove toxins from the blood, causing them to accumulate in the blood and eventually the brain. There, toxins can dull mental functioning and cause personality changes, coma, and even death. Signs of the buildup of toxins in the brain include neglect of personal appearance, unresponsiveness, forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, or changes in sleep habits.
Sensitivity to medication. Cirrhosis slows the liver's ability to filter medications from the blood. Because the liver does not remove drugs from the blood at the usual rate, they act longer than expected and build up in the body. This causes a person to be more sensitive to medications and their side effects.
Portal hypertension. Normally, blood from the intestines and spleen is carried to the liver through the portal vein. But cirrhosis slows the normal flow of blood through the portal vein, which increases the pressure inside it. This condition is called portal hypertension.
Varices. When blood flow through the portal vein slows, blood from the intestines and spleen backs up into blood vessels in the stomach and esophagus. These blood vessels may become enlarged because they are not meant to carry this much blood. The enlarged blood vessels, called varices, have thin walls and carry high pressure, and thus are more likely to burst. If they do burst, the result is a serious bleeding problem in the upper stomach or esophagus that requires immediate medical attention.
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Cirrhosis causes resistance to insulin. This hormone, produced by the pancreas, enables blood glucose to be used as energy by the cells of the body. If you have insulin resistance, your muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin properly. The pancreas tries to keep up with the demand for insulin by producing more. Eventually, the pancreas cannot keep up with the body's need for insulin, and type 2 diabetes develops as excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream.
Liver cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer commonly caused by cirrhosis, starts in the liver tissue itself. It has a high mortality rate.
Problems in other organs. Cirrhosis can cause immune system dysfunction, leading to infection. Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) may become infected with bacteria normally present in the intestines. Cirrhosis can also lead to impotence, kidney dysfunction and failure, and osteoporosis.
What is Cirrhosis of the Liver?
what are the causes Cirrhosis of the Liver?
What are the symptoms of Cirrhosis of the Liver?
How is Cirrhosis of the Liver diagnosed?
What are the treatment for Cirrhosis of the Liver?