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Six Conditions That Lead to Cirrhosis of the Liver

Six Conditions That Lead to Cirrhosis of the Liver

Chronic alcoholism and hepatitis can lead to advanced liver disease called cirrhosis. Cirrhosis means your liver has developed permanent scar tissue that prevents it from working properly to process hormones, nutrients, drugs, and natural toxins. When scarred, your liver isn’t able to produce important proteins and other substances essential to healthy living. 

Cirrhosis can become a life-threatening problem. At Digestive Disorders Associates — with offices in Gambrills, Chester, and Annapolis, Maryland — we help at-risk patients avoid the most dire liver damage. If you already have cirrhosis, damage cannot be undone, but your condition can be managed. 

Here are six conditions that put you at risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver. 

1. Alcoholism

If you’ve been drinking excessively for years, it’s likely it has damaged your liver. Cirrhosis can result from chronic over-drinking that prevents your liver from functioning correctly. In its advanced form, alcoholic liver disease causes scarring and permanent liver damage.

Even if you have advanced cirrhosis due to alcohol abuse, it’s possible to help ease symptoms and improve your overall quality of life. 

2. Viral hepatitis

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Sometimes, a virus causes this inflammation. 

Chronic viral hepatitis, specifically versions B, C, and D, can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. 

Hepatitis B is most often spread when certain bodily fluids from an infected person pass into another person. That means people who share needles or who have unprotected sex are at particular risk. About 15-25% of people with hepatitis B develop a chronic liver disease such as cirrhosis. And hepatitis D only occurs in people who have hepatitis B. 

Hepatitis C passes through sharing contaminated blood, like from sharing needles and syringes, or from an infected mother passing it to a baby during birth. Over the course of 10-20 years, 5-25% of people with chronic hepatitis develop cirrhosis.

3. Fatty liver disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects people who don’t abuse alcohol, but has the same characteristics of alcoholic liver disease. The condition means you have too much fat stored in liver cells. It can advance to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more advanced form of fatty liver disease that can progress to cirrhosis and eventual liver failure. 

Medical experts don't know why some people tend to accumulate fat in their livers or why some fatty livers develop inflammation that leads to cirrhosis.

4. Diabetes

People with diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes, are at particular risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in which excess fat accumulates in the liver. 

Diabetes can make fatty liver disease harder to manage and cause it to progress faster than it would in a nondiabetic person. Excess liver fat causes inflammation that leads to scarring, or cirrhosis. 

Some research suggests that diabetic people with liver disease have a two-fold greater risk of developing cirrhosis.

5. Obesity

NAFLD and NASH are more likely to occur in people who are overweight or obese. When you have an abundance of fat, it can cause inflammatory signals and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the first step in developing full-blown diabetes.

We can help you lose weight, which can help normalize your liver enzymes and improve the levels of inflammation.

6. Hemochromatosis

If you have an overload of iron in your blood, a condition called hemochromatosis, you’re at an increased risk for cirrhosis and other organ damage. Hemochromatosis is often genetic, and when it’s diagnosed early, we can help prevent or reverse organ damage. 

Our goal at Digestive Disorders Associates is to help you avoid major digestive and metabolic conditions or help you manage them, if you should be affected. If you’re at risk of developing liver disease or have been diagnosed with abnormal liver enzymes, contact us right away for treatment. 

Call any of our offices in Gambrills, Chester, or Annapolis, Maryland, or use the online tool to schedule an appointment. 

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