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Cirrhosis Specialist in Concord, NC

What is Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is a disease in which the liver becomes severely scarred, usually as a result of many years of continuous injury. Common causes of cirrhosis include alcohol abuse and Hepatitis C. In advanced stages, cirrhosis is usually irreversible, so treatment may involve symptom management. If the disease is in its earlier stages and underlying causes can be treated, cirrhosis may be reversible.

Common Symptoms of Cirrhosis

People with cirrhosis of the liver sometimes have no symptoms, especially in earlier stages of the disease. However, cirrhosis can cause a long list of symptoms, which may or may not occur together. Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Weakness & fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Unexplained weight loss

Common Causes of Cirrhosis

There are various liver diseases and conditions that can lead to cirrhosis. In the United States, the two most common causes are alcohol abuse and Hepatitis C, which together account for roughly half of the people awaiting liver transplants.

How To Get Diagnosed

If your digestive health provider suspects cirrhosis, they will usually order an imaging test, often an ultrasound, as well as blood tests. They may also order a biopsy, which involves obtaining a sample of liver tissue to be examined.

Are There Any Risk Factors For Cirrhosis

In cirrhosis, scar tissue partially blocks the flow of blood, increasing pressure in the portal vein, which carries blood to the liver from other organs. Portal hypertension is common in cirrhosis and may lead to other complications.

What is The Treatment For Cirrhosis in NC

Cirrhosis treatment in Concord is determined by various factors, including the stage of the disease and the underlying cause. In general, treatment may involve:

  • Slowing or reversing the underlying cause and managing symptoms
  • Identification and treatment of existing complications
  • Protecting the liver from other sources of damage

Frequently Asked Questions

What does liver disease do?

Liver diseases, like cirrhosis of the liver, are known to damage healthy cells, resulting in cell death and inflammation throughout the liver. Once these damaged cells begin to heal, scar tissue is formed, leaving a significant restriction of blood flow. This can slow the liver's ability to successfully process hormones, nutrients, drugs, and other toxins that filter through the liver.

How common is cirrhosis of the liver?

Cirrhosis of the liver is a common medical condition affecting approximately 1 in 400 adults in the United States alone, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. This condition primarily affects adults aged 45 to 54 years old. However, it is one of the leading causes of death in both young and older adults between the ages of 25 to 64 years old.

Are there certain people more at risk of cirrhosis?

Certain risk factors are associated with a person developing cirrhosis of the liver, such as prolonged alcohol abuse, diabetes, viral hepatitis, obesity, sharing needles through drug use, unprotected sex, and a previous medical history including other liver diseases.

Is cirrhosis of the liver hereditary?

Cirrhosis of the liver in itself is not a medical condition that is inherited through genetics or family history, however, it can be caused by other hereditary conditions including:
- An abnormal amount of protein found within the liver, medically known as Alpha 1 Antitrypsin deficiency
- Hemochromatosis, otherwise known as an excessive amount of iron being built up within the liver
- Too much copper in the liver, commonly known as Wilson’s Disease
- Cystic fibrosis causes an extreme buildup of thick, sticky mucus in the liver

What are the different stages of liver cirrhosis?

Unlike how a physician will stage cancer following a diagnosis, there are no specific stages when it comes to cirrhosis of the liver. Once a diagnosis of this life-altering medical condition has been made, it is either compensated cirrhosis or decompensated cirrhosis.

Compensated cirrhosis is accompanied by continuing to receive normal lab results and maintaining asymptomatic status - meaning there are currently no symptoms being experienced. A liver biopsy is needed for an official diagnosis of compensated cirrhosis of the liver.

Decompensated cirrhosis is diagnosed when a patient has received abnormal lab results from their primary care physician accompanied by experiencing noticeable symptoms in addition to at least one or more comorbidities including but not limited to:

Jaundice: yellowing of the skin and other mucous membranes such as the eyes
Ascites: an accumulation of fluid resulting in abdominal swelling
Hepatic encephalopathy: the liver's inability to remove harmful toxins resulting in a loss of brain function
Variceal bleeding: bleeding of the varices throughout the gastrointestinal tract

What are the goals of treating cirrhosis of the liver?

It is important to know that there is currently no known cure for cirrhosis of the liver. Treatment focuses on slowing the damage to your liver, managing and treating symptoms as they appear, and working to prevent and treat any complications that may arise throughout medical treatment. Treatment may include controlling alcohol dependency, prescription medications, and continual screening for liver cancer.

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Contact Info

Northeast Digestive Health Center
1070 Vinehaven Drive NE
Concord, North Carolina 28025
Phone: (704)783-1840
Fax: (704)783-1850
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