*A note from eMed clinicians: most patients with a diagnosis of chronic liver disease or cirrhosis are generally under the care of a hospital consultant. However, you are still very welcome to discuss your concerns with your eMed clinician.
Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver. This is a result of long-term liver damage. As a result, the liver cannot perform some or all of its important functions. The liver is responsible for filtering blood, absorbing nutrients, breaking down and removing harmful substances, and much more.
The liver has the amazing ability to heal and even regrow itself under normal conditions, but cirrhosis can be severe enough that the liver loses these abilities as well. As you can imagine, this can lead to a lot of problems. A conversation with your doctor is the best place to start looking at your risk and addressing any symptoms you might be experiencing.
Some of the most common risk factors include:
- Alcohol use disorder
- Hepatitis B and C infection
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Having NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease)
Steps to take
The list of risk factors above is largely made up of other health conditions. This is because when conditions aren’t properly managed or addressed, they can progress and cause damage to the liver.
If you have a medical condition, the best way to prevent it from causing further harm to your body is to have regular appointments with your doctor. Take your medications as prescribed, and consider changes to your health seriously. Dealing with smaller issues today will prevent them from becoming dangerous health issues in the future!
If you need help with alcohol use disorder, drug use, or sexual health issues, your doctor or mental health practitioner can support you through these problems as well. Their goal is to help you, not judge you, and an appointment will be a safe space to discuss anything you are concerned about.
Some people experience early symptoms of cirrhosis, but late-stage symptoms are much more common. If you notice any of these symptoms, or simply aren’t feeling well, it’s recommended that you reach out to your doctor so that they can begin proper treatment.
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Pain or swelling in the tummy area
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Skin changes such as itchy skin, red patches on your hands, or spider-like clumps of blood vessels on the surface of your skin
- Dark-colored urine
- Pale-colored stool
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Bruising often or easily
- Sudden changes in personality or alertness
Experiencing these symptoms does not mean for sure that you have cirrhosis. However, you should reach out to your doctor with any new or worsening health issues.
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