I've been dignosed with cirrhosis 2 and I feel bad a lot. I stay tired. I have bleeding, and hurt.

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2 Answers

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Hi Rita, liver cirrhosis is a very serious medical condition in which the liver scars and can not function properly. Your symptoms of tiredness and bleeding are due to liver cirrhosis. Cirrhosis often has no signs or symptoms until liver damage is extensive. When signs and symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Easily bleeding or bruising
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Swelling in your legs, feet or ankles (edema)
  • Weight loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Yellow discoloration in the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Fluid accumulation in your abdomen (ascites)
  • Spiderlike blood vessels on your skin
  • Redness in the palms of the hands
  • For women, absent or loss of periods not related to menopause
  • For men, loss of sex drive, breast enlargement (gynecomastia) or testicular atrophy
  • Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)

Treatment for cirrhosis depends on the cause and extent of your liver damage. The goals of treatment are to slow the progression of scar tissue in the liver and to prevent or treat symptoms and complications of cirrhosis. You may need to be hospitalized if you have severe liver damage.

In early cirrhosis, it may be possible to minimize damage to the liver by treating the underlying cause. The options include:

  • Treatment for alcohol dependency. People with cirrhosis caused by excessive alcohol use should try to stop drinking. If stopping alcohol use is difficult, your doctor may recommend a treatment program for alcohol addiction. If you have cirrhosis, it is critical to stop drinking since any amount of alcohol is toxic to the liver.
  • Weight loss. People with cirrhosis caused by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease may become healthier if they lose weight and control their blood sugar levels.
  • Medications to control hepatitis. Medications may limit further damage to liver cells caused by hepatitis B or C through specific treatment of these viruses.
  • Medications to control other causes and symptoms of cirrhosis. Medications may slow the progression of certain types of liver cirrhosis. For example, for people with primary biliary cirrhosis that is diagnosed early, medication may significantly delay progression to cirrhosis.

Other medications can relieve certain symptoms, such as itching, fatigue and pain. Nutritional supplements may be prescribed to counter malnutrition associated with cirrhosis and to prevent weak bones (osteoporosis).

In advanced cases of cirrhosis, when the liver ceases to function, a liver transplant may be the only treatment option. A liver transplant is a procedure to replace your liver with a healthy liver from a deceased donor or with part of a liver from a living donor. Cirrhosis is one of the most common reasons for a liver transplant. Candidates for liver transplant have extensive testing to determine whether they are healthy enough to have a good outcome following surgery.

Historically, those with alcoholic cirrhosis have not been liver transplant candidates because of the risk that they will return to harmful drinking after transplant. Recent studies, however, suggest that carefully selected people with severe alcoholic cirrhosis have post-transplant survival rates similar to those of liver transplant recipients with other types of liver disease.

You may have no signs or symptoms of cirrhosis until your liver is badly damaged.

Early symptoms of cirrhosis may include

  • feeling tired or weak
  • poor appetite
  • losing weight without trying
  • nausea and vomiting
  • mild pain or discomfort in the upper right side of your abdomen

As liver function gets worse, you may have other symptoms, including

  • bruising and bleeding easily
  • confusion, difficulties thinking, memory loss, personality changes, or sleep disorders
  • swelling in your lower legs, ankles, or feet, called edema
  • bloating from buildup of fluid in your abdomen, called ascites
  • severe itchy skin
  • darkening of the color of your urine
  • yellowish tint to the whites of your eyes and skin, called jaundice

Cirrhosis has different causes. Some people with cirrhosis have more than one cause of liver damage. The most common causes of cirrhosis are

  • alcoholic liver disease—damage to the liver and its function due to alcohol abuse
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • chronic hepatitis C
  • chronic hepatitis B

Some of the less common causes of cirrhosis include

  • autoimmune hepatitis
  • diseases that damage, destroy, or block bile ducts, such as primary biliary cholangitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • inherited liver diseases—diseases passed from parents to children through genes—that affect how the liver works, such as Wilson disease, hemochromatosis, and alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • long-term use of certain medicines 
  • chronic heart failure with liver congestion, a condition in which blood flow out of the liver is slowed
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