There is nothing scary like being in the know that some part of the body is not functioning well. Although every part of the body is important in the definition of well being, some organs are very vital. Organs like the heart, lungs, liver, brain, kidneys and nerve system play very critical roles in the life of a human being. Liver is the largest organ of all these. It is located on the right side of the abdomen just below diaphragm. It produces chemicals necessary for execution of normal metabolism. This vital organ is also responsible for removal of toxins in the blood made possible by the fact that all blood passes through it before being distributed to the whole body.
There is no doubt that the liver is a hyper sensitive organ. It must maintain an accurate chemical equilibrium. In the process of carrying out its functions, the liver may encounter situations that put its normal functioning in jeopardy. There is a strange relationship between this vital organ and blood circulatory system. Majority of blood vessels that supply the liver with blood come from intestines. These veins reduce in to numerous smaller ones as they get deeper in to the liver. The smallest veins called sinusoids are in direct contact with the cells of liver. This kind of interaction between sinusoids and liver cell enables the liver to add and remove various compounds from blood. After this has been achieved they regroup to form one big hepatic vein which takes blood to the heart. This important interaction between liver cells and circulatory system is terminated by cirrhosis. It can be argued that self regeneration of the liver cells may help in replacing the damaged cells, but the fact is the earlier setting will not be fully replaced by new cells. This condition is dangerous to the life of an individual given the fact that crucial functions of the liver are heavily interfered with. This essay explores one specific condition of the liver called cirrhosis (Okita, 2001).
Liver cirrhosis is a condition that has tormented a number of patients in the world. It is characterized by anomalous functioning of the liver. Diseases causing cirrhosis damage liver cells. As a result, reddening, swelling and subsequent repair of the liver tissues ends up in formation of scars. The liver responds to the damages by formation of new cells in the process called regeneration. A number of causes are attributed to liver cirrhosis. Some of these causes are presence of foreign chemicals in the body system such as alcohol, poisonous metals and drugs. Autoimmune has also been linked to liver cirrhosis. This is a condition in which the body system over reacts leading to the attack of the liver by immune system. It must be noted that liver cirrhosis is not cancer. Cirrhosis and cancer are two different things even though both attack the liver.
Types of liver cirrhosis
There are four types of cirrhosis highlighted in this essay. The first one is nutritional cirrhosis. The other name of this type is portal cirrhosis. It is the most common among liver cirrhosis patients and associated with individuals who have long time habit of alcoholism. Irresponsible consumption of alcohol may lead to chronic case of liver cirrhosis. The second type is bilary cirrhosis. It is caused by malfunctioning of the bile duct. When the duct is damaged, bile cannot flow smoothly away from the pancreas. Bile is very useful in the breaking down of fats. Cirrhosis which damages the bile duct an ends up hindering smooth flow of bile is called bilary cirrhosis. The third type is postnecrotic cirrhosis. This type is as a result of long time infections in the liver. About half of the patients of cirrhosis are likely to suffer from this type. Finally, the fourth type is called pigment cirrhosis. As the name suggests, it is characterized by too much iron in the liver. Victims of this type are unable to breakdown too much iron elements in their system. It account for about seven percent of the total reported cases.
Diagnosis of cirrhosis
There are a number of options available for medical personnel in the determination of whether a person has cirrhosis or not. Through careful observation and study of symptoms and medical history, doctors are able to make an accurate diagnosis. The laboratory test is another option that can be used in cirrhosis diagnosis. To further confirm the decision made, carrying out physical examination is very helpful. The combination of all these methods is a reliable way of identifying the disease. As an illustration, the doctor may call for blood examination if he discovers an unusual texture and size of the liver.
Scanning can also be employed in the determination of the existence of the disease. Ultrasound, CAT, and radioactive scans are available for highlighting the condition of the liver. Doctors may also insert specialized gadget via abdomen. This method allows them to have a look at the liver. The instrument is able to transmit images of the liver to a computer screen. Ultimate confirmation of the diagnosis is biopsy from the liver. The special form of a syringe is used to collect a small sample of the liver. Sample from the liver is then methodically examined to pinpoint presence of scars or other indicative ailments.
Symptoms of liver cirrhosis
There are no specific indications reflecting the presence of cirrhosis in early stages. This is because the formed scars are not big enough to affect how liver carries out its functions. Nevertheless, if diseases causing cirrhosis are not treated, a substantial level of damage to liver tissues is big enough to generate symptoms. Patients with this condition may show some of the following signs. Since the liver plays a number of roles in the human body, the symptoms are likely to be found in the areas where the functions of this vital organ are no longer felt.
Jaundice, which is characterized by yellowing of the skin, is one of the signs of cirrhosis. This is as a result of the accumulation of bilirubin. As earlier mentioned, the liver plays an important role in the removal of impurities in the blood. Cirrhosis destroys this vital relationship between the circulatory system and liver operations. When this mechanism of elimination of toxic elements is curtailed by cirrhosis, substances accumulate in the blood. One of these substances is bilirubin.
Fatigue indicates the presence of cirrhosis. It is illustrated by the acute reduction in the ability to perform tasks and efficiency. A fatigued person feels like not doing anything and a generally worn out. This is a sign of cirrhosis linked to the basic slow down is body system activities. The liver is a vital organ. Among the many functions is the production of a substance which is important in the initiation of blood clotting. When this function has been hampered by liver cirrhosis, the patient is likely to experience easy bruising.
Liver cirrhosis can also be manifested in a condition called portal hypertension. The presence of scars in cirrhotic liver blocks a smooth flow of blood through this organ. This blockage creates a bottleneck in this section of the circulatory system. There will be blood backing up in the vein supplying liver with blood. This blood vessel is called portal vein. Persistent increase in blood pressure within the portal vein is referred to as portal hypertension. Patients afflicted by cirrhosis are likely to reduce their desire for food. The appetite is lost as a result of discomfort.
Other symptoms are an accumulation of fluids on the legs, increase in blood pressure and state of mental disability characterized by confusion. It is also important to note that symptoms of cirrhosis vary according to the extent in which it is severe (Fauci et. al, 2008).
Causes of liver cirrhosis
Alcohol is one of the major contributors to liver problems in which cirrhosis is one of them. It is common among the communities from developed nations. The manner in which alcohol causes cirrhosis is dependent on the levels of consumption. Perpetual drunkards end up damaging their liver cells. Three of every ten people who consume an average of forty liters of strong liquor are likely to develop cirrhosis in less than twenty years. Alcohol is not such a friend to the liver; it brings about a number of complications. Cirrhosis is one of them.
Cryptogenic cirrhosis is another common condition of the liver. Medical expert has not been able to give an explanation of this type of cirrhosis. They attribute this kind of cirrhosis to overweight and diabetes. Inability to respond to insulin may also lead to cirrhosis. In this case, the start of cirrhosis is characterized by the disappearance of fats around patient's liver. It has made it difficult for researchers to clearly identify the relationship between non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and cirrhosis. This is a growing concern among the patients who undergo the kidney transplant.
Hepatitis B and C are the diseases affecting the liver. Unlike type A which heals within a short time, B and C can lead to persistent infection of the liver. A constant and progressive development of hepatitis ends up damaging the liver. It is such damages which characterize liver cirrhosis.
Liver cirrhosis is a hereditary disease. This occurs when certain genetic disorders are transferred to the children. Such disorders play a major role in the retention of hazardous substances such as copper and iron. Hemochromatosis is a condition whereby an excessive amount of iron is absorbed from food. It is an inherited state completely linked to genetics. If this goes on for a long time, the presence of iron in several body organs including liver becomes excess. Another inherited anomaly associated with cirrhosis is Wilson disease. It is defined by the failure of proteins regulating the amount of copper. Unregulated levels of copper affect liver and other organs.
Children who are born without bile duct will at some point of their lives develop cirrhosis. Some do not have enough enzymes needed in a regulation of cirrhosis. The absence of vital enzymes results in a formation of scars in the liver which is a characteristic of cirrhosis. Malfunctioning of the bile duct is another cause of damage to liver cells. The duct could be either absent or blocked.
Different patients attract varying treatment attention depending on the level of disease. Treatment given to a patient who is in a chronic state is not the same as that given to early diagnosis case. The medical attention received by patients is customized to just fit the age and earlier medical conditions of the patient. Just like any other condition, treatment of liver cirrhosis is more effective if early diagnosis is done. The main aim is to terminate further damage to liver cells and try to replenish damaged parts where possible. The liver is the only organ inside human body which is able to regenerate naturally. The number of studies has proven that as little as a quarter of this organ can regenerate into a complete one. In a chronic case, treatment attention extends further to resultant complications. The most effective and corrective way of curbing further damage to liver tissues is reducing exposure to causes as much as possible. Actually, the initial treatment of cirrhosis is the elimination of exposure where possible (Blum, Maier and Rodes, 2004).
Cirrhosis patients must avoid taking any drugs without the advice of a medical expert. Other substances containing chemicals such as food supplements must be avoided. This is necessary for prevention of further accumulation of chemicals in the body. High levels of such chemicals are toxic.
The adverse effects of liver cirrhosis may be remedied by carrying out a surgical procedure. One of these procedures is a replacement of damaged lives through an organ transplant. A liver from medically fit donor is used in place of the heavily damaged liver (Mazzaferro, Regalia, and Doci, 2001).
Treatment of liver cirrhosis is detailed by treatment of its causes. Underlying conditions such as alcohol addiction, too much absorption of iron and hepatitis must be addressed if cirrhosis is to be eliminated. Alcohol instigated cirrhosis is an easily treatable form of cirrhosis. Avoidance of too much intake of alcohol is the best treatment for this form. Considering a healthy diet is also an important way of reducing the effects of alcohol.
In the case of viral infection, the patient is subjected to various ways of improving immunity and destruction of the virus. The use of interferon will help in boosting the way immunity system responds to viral attacks while on the other side antiviral elements destroys or inhibits the activities of a virus. In the case of hereditary causes of cirrhosis, the patient is subjected to ways of eliminating excess toxic elements like iron and copper.
Liver cirrhosis is a disease which even though fatal, it cannot be compared with main killers. Categorical management of preventive and curative measures will go a long way in eliminating adverse effects of cirrhosis.