When the largest internal organ fails, the entire body ultimately feels the consequences. The first symptoms of liver cirrhosis often appear only after years and in many cases do not immediately suggest liver disease.
First symptoms of liver cirrhosis
If more and more liver tissue is replaced by connective tissue, the liver can function less and less efficiently. This sooner or later affects the whole body. Especially metabolism is affected.
The toxins that really should be broken down by the liver are transported throughout the body through the blood. Here they can cause considerable damage, for example to the brain. Also, the liver can no longer make important proteins. One of its possible consequences is blood clotting.
The cirrhosis of the liver is also evident on the skin: may become yellowish and sometimes cause extreme itching. There is also the potential for gallstones to form more easily.
The diseased liver also affects hormonal balance and some other metabolic functions. Many patients with liver cirrhosis lose weight because their body is no longer using nutrients properly and the body's own intake decreases.
To stop cirrhosis of the liver, the causative disease must always be treated. If this does not happen, more and more liver cells break down and are replaced by connective tissue. Then there are complications that need to be treated immediately to prevent life-threatening organ failure (hepatic coma).
It should be noted that the breakdown of liver cells occurs in an advanced stage of the disease, since the organ has a relatively high reserve function. The first symptoms are generally nonspecific and do not immediately reveal liver damage:
· Reduced efficiency;
· Mental disorders;
· Possibly pressure or pain in the upper abdomen;
· Signs of the skin.
Symptoms can often be seen first on the skin than the liver. Skin lesions during liver cirrhosis include:
· Yellowish gray to yellowish skin color.
· Star-shaped blood vessel neoplasms, especially on the face and upper body (called spider veins or spider angioma).
· Redness of the palms of the hands.
· "Lacquer tongue", lips or tongue red, soft and dry
· Metabolism disorders and hormonal imbalance.
Many people with cirrhosis of the liver lose weight. In particular, muscle mass deteriorates in the course of the disease. The body also does not absorb many vitamins and minerals. Even the hormone insulin no longer breaks down properly, causing a disturbance in sugar or starch metabolism. If no action is taken, it can lead to diabetes mellitus (hepatogenic diabetes).
A disturbed metabolism also affects hormonal balance, especially in men. The testicles shrink and generate impotence. In addition, the chest widens and the body hair falls out and a bulging belly forms. In women, irregular menstrual bleeding is a sign of a disturbed hormonal balance.
Complications of cirrhosis
If the cause of liver cirrhosis is not treated, serious complications can occur. The connective tissue that forms during illness is a barrier to the blood supply. The portal vein, the link between the liver and the intestines, is also affected.
In the veins of the liver and the portal vein, there is dangerous hypertension (portal hypertension), because blood cannot flow properly through the scarred liver. The vessels are strongly dilated and varicose veins form especially in the esophagus or stomach.
As blood pressure continues to rise, they can explode and cause massive bleeding. The result of such blood loss is sweating, altered heart rate, and rapid breathing to the point of fatal shock. This varicose bleeding represents a life threatening danger and the patient should be taken to a clinic as soon as possible.
Due to the high blood pressure in the portal vein, the fluid is pressed into the abdomen and can lead to ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity). The belly swells and hurts, in addition, breathing is difficult. Bacteria can pass from the intestine into abdominal serous fluid.
If toxins pass through the blood to the brain, various neurological and psychiatric conditions occur (hepatic encephalopathy). The first signs are usually sleep disturbances, mood swings, or coordination difficulties. Later, the hands begin to shake violently.
Periods of confusion and loss of consciousness also occur. The poisoning can regress if the cause of cirrhosis is treated. Otherwise, there is a risk of life-threatening liver failure.
Damaged liver cells are more likely to degenerate and cause cancer, especially in viral hepatitis. Then a malignant tumor (liver carcinoma) forms, which grows relatively quickly and forms secondary tumors.
It is vitally important to pay attention to any symptoms and make a timely consultation with the doctor.
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