Liver Cirrhosis - Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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Liver Cirrhosis - Medical Malpractice

Liver cirrhosis involves having scarring of the liver as a result of various bodily stressors on the liver. The liver cirrhosis makes the liver deteriorate so that it doesn't work properly and is filled with scar tissue instead of normal liver tissue. There is impairment of the blood flow through the liver so that ascites builds up, which is excess fluid in the abdomen. Toxins cannot be gotten rid of via the liver, hormones cannot be processed and drugs or nutrients from the digestive tract cannot be handled. Fat soluble vitamins do not get absorbed well due to a lack of bile production. Clotting proteins do not get made so clotting does not happen very well.

The liver usually regenerates itself if cells are sick or damaged. However, if there is end stage liver disease, the liver is unable to regenerate itself and liver cells die, replaced by scarring and connective tissue. Cirrhosis is deadly and is the twelfth leading cause of death overall and about 30,000 people die each year from the disease. Men are more likely to die from cirrhosis than women.

Cirrhosis has numerous causes. The most common cause in North America is excess alcohol consumption along with hepatitis C infections. Obesity is a cause of fatty liver disease, which can turn into cirrhosis. This is especially true if another stressor affects the liver. Cirrhosis can be multifactorial and takes years to develop once insults to the liver develop.

Alcohol abuse can cause cirrhosis in some people after several years of excessive use. Some individuals get cirrhosis without difficulty while others do not get the disease. It takes about two to four drinks of alcoholic beverages per day for several years to cause cirrhosis. Men can tolerate more alcohol use than do women but tend to get the disease of cirrhosis much more easily.

Chronic hepatitis C is another cause of cirrhosis. It is a viral infection that inflames and damages the liver cells so that eventually connective tissue forms. Chronic hepatitis B and D also cause cirrhosis but this is less likely. Hepatitis D does not exist alone and only exists in those people who already have hepatitis B.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a cause of cirrhosis. It is more common in obesity, protein malnutrition, heart disease, diabetes and intake of corticosteroids. These can cause cirrhosis to occur as a secondary phenomenon to fatty liver disease.

Autoimmune hepatitis is more common in women. It is caused by autoantibodies to the liver cells so that the liver is inflamed and eventually becomes damaged. Cirrhosis is a result of this disorder. About 70 percent of women who have autoimmune hepatitis are women.

Biliary diseases can cause cirrhosis to occur. The most common type of disease of this type is primary biliary cirrhosis. It can destroy the bile ducts and backs up to destroy the liver. It can happen secondarily when a surgeon accidentally cuts off and ties the bile duct or ducts. Bile backs up and causes biliary cirrhosis.

Cystic fibrosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin disease and hemochromatosis can all contribute to cirrhosis, along with less common diseases, such as Wilson's disease, glycogen storage disease and galactossemia. These are inherited and have no cure. All can result in cirrhosis eventually.

Prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals, drug reactions and parasites can damage the liver and can cause cirrhosis. The toxins that cause cirrhosis vary with where you live and what kind of environmental toxins you are exposed to.

Symptoms you get from cirrhosis include fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, loss of weight, loss of appetite, abdominal swelling and itching of the body. You can get varicose veins in the esophagus and spider veins across the abdomen. Jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin is common with cirrhosis. Gallstones are also common because the bile doesn't flow freely. It can be difficult to take medications because of liver failure and ammonia builds up, causing hepatic encephalopathy or coma.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here