5 Myths and Facts about Liver Cirrhosis you should know

The liver is an irreplaceable organ in the human body. It aids digestion, fights infections, removes toxic substances, and is responsible for nutrient absorption from food. Unfortunately, liver diseases are often diagnosed late and are found incidentally during general medical check-ups.

Liver cirrhosis is the next stage of liver damage after inflammation. It is the phase when fibrotic scar tissue replaces normal liver tissue.

Since the liver is usually a silent organ, its problems get unnoticed & many myths exist about the causes of liver diseases. The following are some myths associated with liver cirrhosis treatment and their corresponding facts.

Myth 1: No Alcohol, No risk of liver cirrhosis

While it is true that 80% of liver diseases are due to excessive alcohol consumption, it is not the only responsible cause for liver cirrhosis. This disease is even possible in newborn infants. In addition to alcohol, the liver can fail due to a variety of reasons like:

  • Hepatitis B & C Infection
  • Hereditary disorders
  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Drug-induced liver injury
  • Non Alcoholic fatty liver

Fatty liver is the chief cause of liver cirrhosis after alcohol consumption. But it can be curtailed by following a well-balanced diet and exercise.

Although rare, drug-induced liver injury is possible for individuals taking medications, especially elders with diabetes. Regular consultation on liver health can help identify early such cases. Excess consumption of pain medications with acetaminophen also can cause liver stress and scarring.

Myth 2: Liver cirrhosis will definitely lead to liver cancer

Cancer in the liver is one of the many outcomes of liver cirrhosis. It can be detected early with periodic blood and radiology tests. Livers that don’t respond to medication or surgery might require Liver transplant surgery.

Myth 3: Rejuvenation of the liver is possible

Water and limited quantities of coffee without sugar aid the liver in its functions. Other than that, regeneration of liver tissues damaged with liver cirrhosis is unlikely. It reduces the ability of the liver to repair damaged cells and tissues: one of the main reasons liver failure can be dangerous. It is almost impossible to reverse liver cirrhosis cases if not taken proper measures and treated early.

Myth 4: No symptoms mean the liver is working properly

Liver diseases often do not show any symptoms in the body during the initial stages of damage. Liver cirrhosis is an advanced stage of liver infection yet might not have any notable symptoms. In extreme cases, the following arise:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Toxin build-up leading to a confused state or coma
  • Fluid in the belly causing abdominal discomfort or swelling
  • General weakness and fatigue in the body
  • Blood in vomit or a tarry stool

For people on regular medications or who are obese, it might take several years for the liver to show symptoms of cirrhosis. So it is recommended to check the liver’s functionalities by testing ASAT and ALAT markers in addition to transaminase levels in the blood.

Myth 5: Liver transplant ends liver issues

Liver transplantation is the last resort for severe liver cirrhosis. Reducing weight and rehabilitation from alcohol and drugs are required for this procedure. Also, the patient should consume medications that have side effects their whole life to prevent liver rejection. Although the new liver works properly, it is still prone to damage and other issues without adequate precautions.

Liver cirrhosis is a serious illness and transplanting the affected liver is not an easy process. Nothing can replace the original functionality of the organ and therefore, extreme care must be taken to prevent liver cirrhosis. Quitting alcohol and calorie-rich foods can go a long way in helping reduce the risk.

References

https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/gastrointestinal-articles/things-you-thought-you-knew-about-cirrhosis#:~:text=Myth%3A%20A%20cirrhosis%20diagnosis%20means,risk%20for%20developing%20liver%20cancer.
https://www.huffpost.com/archive/ca/entry/10-facts-and-myths-about-liver-disease_n_10927164
https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/what-causes-liver-disease-five-myths-dispelled

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