Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver. Scar tissue forms because of injury or long-term disease. Scar tissue cannot do what healthy liver tissue does – make protein, help fight infections, clean the blood, help digest food and store energy. Cirrhosis can lead to:
• Easy bruising or bleeding, or nosebleeds
• Swelling of the abdomen or legs
• Extra sensitivity to medicines
• High blood pressure in the vein entering the liver
• Enlarged veins called varices in the esophagus and stomach. Varices can bleed suddenly.
• Kidney failure
• Severe itching
A small number of people with cirrhosis get liver cancer.
Your doctor will diagnose cirrhosis with blood tests, imaging tests, or a biopsy.
Cirrhosis has many causes. In the United States, the most common causes are chronic alcoholism and hepatitis. Nothing will make the scar tissue disappear, but treating the cause can keep it from getting worse. If too much scar tissue forms, you may need to consider a liver transplant.