A damaged liver generates new tissue to heal itself, but a cirrhotic liver is unable to regenerate properly because it begins to replace itself with connective fiber and alter its structure. Early-stage cirrhosis can be reversed with treatment of its underlying cause, but late-stage cirrhosis is usually irreversible, and calls for liver transplant. If not addressed, cirrhosis can eventually lead to liver failure and/or cancer. Knowing the signs of cirrhosis will help you catch the condition in its early, treatable stage.
Understanding the Risk Factors
1. Think about how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol damages the liver by blocking its ability to process carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
2. Get tested for hepatitis B and C.
3. Be aware of a correlation between cirrhosis and diabetes.
4. Take your current weight into account.
5. Know the risks from autoimmune and heart diseases.
6. Examine your family history.
Recognizing the Symptoms and Signs
1. Recognize the symptoms of cirrhosis.
2. Look for spider veins.
3. Observe the palms for reddening. Palmar erythema looks like speckled patches of reddening spots on the palm, and is caused by changed sex hormone metabolism.
4. Note any changes in the nails.
5. Inspect long bone joints for swelling.
6. Look for curled fingers.
7. Check for a firm mass in men's breasts.
8. Observe symptoms of hypogonadism in men.
9. Take note of abdominal pain and bloating.
10. Inspect the abdomen for prominent veins.
11. Smell the breath for a musty odor.
12. Notice yellow eyes and skin.
13. Test the hands for asterixis.
Seeking Expert Medical Diagnosis
1. Ask a doctor to check for a change in liver or spleen size.
2. Have the doctor check for Cruveilhier-Baumgarten murmur.
3. Allow the doctor to perform blood tests for cirrhosis.
4. Have the doctor perform imaging studies.
5. Get a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis.
Receiving Treatment for Cirrhosis
1. Allow medical staff to direct your treatment.
2. Take medications as directed.
3. Be prepared for surgical options.
4. Understand your prognosis.