Excessive alcohol damages the liver. In such people, the liver tries to repair itself. This process of repair causes scarring in the liver tissue. When a significant portion of the Liver is scarred or fibrosed it affects the proper functioning of the Liver. This condition is called Liver Cirrhosis. Alcohol consumption is not the only reason for Liver Cirrhosis. Other conditions like Non alcoholic Fatty Liver, Chronic Hepatitis are also the major reasons behind Liver Cirrhosis.
Symptoms - Many patients will not experience any symptoms until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. The symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, appetite loss, swelling in legs, feet or ankles, itchy skin, yellow colouration of the skin and the eyes, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, redness of the palms, loss of sex drive in men, untimely loss of periods in women etc.
Risk Factors - Drinking more than 2 pegs of whiskey daily for more than 10 years, obesity is the mother of many diseases and also one of the key factors behind Liver Cirrhosis, having viral hepatitis. If you want to prevent this disease then eat a raw diet consisting of all the vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. 80% of your daily calorie intake should be in the form of raw plant diet. Cooked food should be eaten rarely just for a change of taste. This kind of diet will definitely stop the progression of Cirrhosis and in some cases, can even reverse the disease.
Complications - Cirrhosis slows the flow of blood to the liver. This increases the pressure of blood in the vein which brings blood to the liver. This condition is called Portal Hypertension. This can cause fluid collection in the abdomen or the lower limbs. Portal Hypertension can also cause enlargement of the spleen resulting in trapping of white blood cells and platelets in the spleen. Liver Cirrhosis reduces the immunity of the body and causes malnutrition resulting in weight loss. One of the important function of the liver is to clear the toxins from the blood. Cirrhosis reduces the normal functioning of the liver and the toxins start to accumulate in the brain. This causes mental confusion and loss of concentration.
Diagnosis - The primary diagnosis of Liver Disease is done on an ultrasound scan of the abdomen. This is followed by blood tests like Liver Function Test, Lipid Profile, CBC, Viral Markers - Hepatitis B, C or D, Kidney Function Test, PT-INR etc. Advanced Imaging tests like Ultrasound / CT / MRI Liver Elastography are done to measure the extent of Cirrhosis in the Liver. Liver Biopsy is the most definitive diagnostic test for Cirrhosis but has some risk associated with it. The emergence of non-invasive imaging modalities has reduced the utility of Liver Biopsy and many Liver Specialists are averse to doing this test. The main reason behind avoiding Liver Biopsy is the Risk Benefit analysis.
It is assumed that Liver Cirrhosis cannot be reversed but can only be slowed if the cause and the extent of the damage is established. Some common things which will help all the Cirrhosis patients are :
Abstinence: Patients of Fatty Liver should abstain from alcohol consumption for atleast 5 days in a week. Patients with Liver Cirrhosis should completely stop consuming alcohol.
Lifestyle Modification - Changing your dietery habits by eating more and more raw food instead of cooked food will help your liver in curing itself. A diet of raw vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds all chopped into small pieces and mixed together can be eaten all through the day. This will help not only the liver but also help in reducing obesity, hypertension, diabetes and many more lifestyle diseases.
Medications: Medications may limit further damage to liver cells caused by hepatitis B or C through specific treatment of these viruses.
Liver transplant: - This might be the only option left for you if the disease has progressed into an advanced stage of Cirrhosis. The condition is that you can get Liver Transplant done only 6 months after you have quit alcohol and are determined never to consume it again. The second challange is to find a donor within the family who would be willing to give a part of their liver for someone who has been highly irresponsible towards their own health.
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