Cirrhosis of the liver is a progressive disease, developing slowly over many years. If allowed to continue, the buildup of scar tissue can eventually stop liver function. Because of the gradual decline, liver cirrhosis often goes undetected and unnoticed. You can potentially catch cirrhosis from the start by knowing the signs and your risk for liver disease.
The Silent Organ
The liver is known as a silent organ because when symptoms of liver disease become apparent, it is typically in the later stages of the disease. If you’re at increased risk of liver disease, you can work with your doctor for annual screenings and lifestyle changes to protect your liver. Risk factors include:
- Chronic alcohol abuse
- Chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis B, C, and D)
- Fat accumulating in the liver (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease)
- Being overweight
- Insulin resistance
- Family history
Signs of Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is a late stage of scarring (fibrosis) of the liver caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions. Each time your liver is injured, it tries to repair itself. This process causes the formation of scar tissue. As cirrhosis progresses, more scar tissue forms, eventually making it difficult for the liver to function (decompensated cirrhosis).
While the damage done by cirrhosis generally can’t be undone, if diagnosed early and the cause is treated, further damage can be limited and, rarely, reversed. As scar tissue accumulates, the ability of the liver to function properly is affected. The following signs and symptoms may occur:
- Blood capillaries become visible on the skin on the upper abdomen.
- Itchy skin
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Pain or tenderness in the area where the liver is located
- Red or blotchy palms
If you’re looking to get your liver health back on track, Arizona Liver Health can help. After all, liver health is in our name. We offer FREE fibroscans for adults at risk of liver disease to test for liver fat and fibrosis, which may lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. We also provide an opportunity to participate in one of our enrolling clinical trials to help advance the treatment of liver diseases for those with liver disease. To learn more, call us at 480-470-4000, or visit us online today!