Symptoms of cirrhosis

       It is estimated about 1 in 400 adults in the United States has cirrhosis. In Malaysia, liver diseases accounted for 2,286 deaths or 1.65 % of total deaths in 2017. Even though the number seems small compared to any other diseases such as heart diseases, the number is actually not a true representation of the actual cases since many people are undiagnosed yet still contribute to daily life impairment and catastrophic life-threatening conditions. You need to find a doctor if you feel you are at risk of cirrhosis.

            Cirrhosis is a condition in which liver damage is characterised by fibrosis or scarred and the damage is permanent due to chronic injury. Examples of injury are due to infections such as hepatitis B and C, long-term use of certain medications such as birth control pills, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). antibiotics, and anti-seizure medicines, hereditary conditions such as hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease, autoimmune hepatitis or toxins due to alcohol abuse causing alcoholic liver diseases. 

            Most people with liver damage usually do not realise the liver is damaged as there are no obvious signs or symptoms until the liver is damaged severely. Knowing the symptoms early on may help patients to get early treatment. Early symptoms are:

1-feeling easily tired of weak

2-weight loss for no apparent reasons caused by anaemia such as folate deficiency and haemolytic anaemia

3-nausea or vomiting

4- sudden loss of appetite

5-discomfort or mild pain in the abdomen of the upper right side

6- decreased of libido and feminization such as testicular atrophy in males

7-irregular menstrual bleeding or sudden no menstrual bleeding (amenorrhea)

8-frequent muscle cramps

As liver functions get worst due to injury or damages causing changes in shape of the liver, the symptoms develop such as:

1-formation of multiple bruises

2-easy bleeding causes by decreased white blood cells and platelets functioning for blood clot

3- changes in awareness to surrounding such as confusion, changes in personality, difficulty remembering memory and thinking

4-edema or swelling of the limbs such as legs, ankles or feet

5-ascites or bloating of the abdomen caused by accumulation of fluid

6-changes of nail shapes or clubbing causing nails to become like a Mickey mouse shaped or Terry nails as if the nails lose it pinkish colour or washed-out

6-inflammation of the skin causing severe itchiness

7-dark colour urine because kidney excrete bilirubin (yellowish pigment from breakdown of red blood cells) should be normally breakdown by the liver but unable to do so since the liver is damaged

8-yellowish skin and tint to the white part of the eyes called jaundice

9-changes in breath smells causing sweet musty smells called fetor hepaticus

10-breathing difficulty due to decreased oxygenation, excessive rapid deep breathing (hyperventilation), accumulation of fluid and air in the chest (hydrothorax)

            Even though cirrhosis cannot be cured since the liver is permanently damaged, there is still hope for them to live better and help alleviate the discomfort. Treatments usually revolve around the causes of the cirrhosis itself. For example, if the patients are known to have autoimmune cirrhosis, immunosuppressant agents will be given. If the cause of cirrhosis is viral infection, antiviral medications will be addressed. Take Multivitamins for better health.

            Patients need to modify their lifestyle to avoid further injury and help ease the debilitating symptoms. Such modifications include avoiding alcohol consumption, avoiding raw seafood, having a balanced meal with a low sodium diet, regular protein intake according to doctor’s advice, and taking vaccinations against influenza, pneumonia and hepatitis. Patients can opt to add additional dietary supplements such as vitamins and minerals after discussions with doctors to help their body get enough nutrition since most patients might struggle with losing appetite and eat less meals.

References:

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/cirrhosis#:~:text=Cirrhosis%20has%20many%20signs%20and,C%2C%20and%20chronic%20hepatitis%20B.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482419/
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Categorized as Health

By Finn

Finn Oliver Edwards: Finn, a pediatric nurse, shares child health tips, parenting advice, and preventive measures for common childhood illnesses.