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Hepatic Steatosis (Fatty Liver Disease)
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Cirrhosis of the liver is an extremely serious, progressive liver disease that begins with minor scarring and proceeds through the formation of fibrotic lesions all the way to terminal liver breakdown. It can be and often is caused by excessive alcohol consumption, although cirrhosis also has other causes, notably types B and C infectious hepatitis. The prognosis and life expectancy of a patient suffering from cirrhosis of the liver varies depending on which stage the disease has reached in its progression. There are four stages to the progression of cirrhosis that are generally recognized by doctors.
In the early part of the disease, few if any symptoms are encountered. Sometimes
a patient suffers from dry mouth, jaundice, fatigue, or upper-
The second stage of cirrhosis involves hardening of the abnormal tissue growth into
Prognosis and life expectancy are good if the disease is discovered at this point, although some impairment of liver function is probably unavoidable.
The third stage of cirrhosis of the liver sees more serious damage to liver functioning,
as the fibrosis evolves into solid masses of enlarged liver tissue. The body's ability
to digest fats, including fat-
The final stage of cirrhosis of the liver is terminal. It involves severe impairment of hepatic functioning. Life expectancy is very low, and a liver transplant is required if there is to be any chance of survival.
Physicians use a system called the Child-
Each of these is given a value of 1 to 3, where 1 indicates mild damage as in the
early stages of cirrhosis while 3 indicates severe imbalance. The results are added
and generate one of three levels of overall damage: 5-
Unfortunately, the damage to the liver done by cirrhosis is irreversible. It is possible,
however, for the victim to live a normal life if the progress of the disease is arrested,
usually through lifestyle changes, early enough that sufficient hepatic function
is retained. If that fails, the only treatment is a liver transplant. A liver transplant
can extend survival chances dramatically, although there is always a risk of complications
to the surgery, rejection of the transplanted organ, or diseases resulting from the
The biggest problem with liver transplant is the limited number of donor organs available. The cirrhosis sufferer is more likely to die waiting on the transplant list than from the procedure itself. Obviously, the best way to deal with cirrhosis is to prevent its occurrence, which means reducing the risk factors, most obviously by avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and also by avoiding obesity. Both of these are advisable for reasons of general health as well as specifically in relation to cirrhosis.