Causes of Cirrhosis of the Liver

 

 

 If you’re like me, you probably associate Cirrhosis of the Liver with alcoholism.

It was an terrible surprise to learn that my mom, a non drinker, had developed this deadly disease.  In her case, the cirrhosis developed as a result of NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or Fatty Liver disease).

 

In fact, cirrhosis has a variety of causes, and many people with cirrhosis have more than one cause of liver damage.

 

The list below shows common causes of cirrhosis in the United States. While chronic hepatitis C and alcohol-related liver disease are the most common causes of cirrhosis, the incidence of cirrhosis caused by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is rising due to increasing rates of obesity.

 

Chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is due to a viral infection that causes inflammation, or swelling, and damage to the liver. The hepatitis C virus spreads through contact with infected blood, such as from a needlestick accident, injection drug use, or receiving a blood transfusion before 1992. Less commonly, hepatitis C can be spread by sexual contact with an infected person or at the time of childbirth from an infected mother to her newborn.

 

Hepatitis C often becomes chronic, with long-term persistence of the viral infection. Chronic hepatitis C causes damage to the liver that, over years or decades, can lead to cirrhosis.

 

Advanced therapies for chronic hepatitis C now exist, and health care providers should treat people with chronic hepatitis C before they develop severe fibrosis or cirrhosis. Unfortunately, many people first realize they have chronic hepatitis C when they develop symptoms of cirrhosis.

 

Alcohol-related liver disease. Alcoholism is the second most common cause of cirrhosis in the United States. Most people who consume alcohol do not suffer damage to the liver. However, heavy alcohol use over several years makes a person more likely to develop alcohol-related liver disease. The amount of alcohol it takes to damage the liver varies from person to person.

 

http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--f9q8Zwwt--/c_scale,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/gbigr28lwjypbyz1mmgk.jpg

 

Research suggests that drinking two or fewer drinks a day for women and three or fewer drinks a day for men may not injure the liver. Drinking more than these amounts leads to fat and inflammation in the liver, which over 10 to 12 years can lead to alcoholic cirrhosis.

 

Recommended: The Alcohol Free Forever program.

 

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In NAFLD, fat builds up in the liver; however, the fat buildup is not due to alcohol use. When the fat accompanies inflammation and liver cell damage, the condition is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, with “steato” meaning fat, and “hepatitis” meaning inflammation of the liver. The inflammation and damage can cause fibrosis, which eventually can lead to cirrhosis.

 

https://www.gbhealthwatch.com/images/HotTopic-Fatty-Liver-fig1.png

 

 

Extra fat in the liver is more common in people who:

 

 

  • are overweight or obese.
  • have diabetes—a condition characterized by high blood glucose, also called high blood sugar.
  • have high blood cholesterol and triglycerides, called hyperlipidemia.
  • have high blood pressure.
  • have metabolic syndrome—a group of traits and medical conditions linked to being overweight and obese that makes people more likely to develop both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of any three of the following: large waist size, high triglycerides in the blood, abnormal levels of cholesterol in the blood, high blood pressure, and higher than normal blood glucose levels. NASH may represent the liver component of the metabolic syndrome.

 

See The Fat Loss Diet I Recommend.

 

NASH now ranks as the third most common cause of cirrhosis in the United States.

 

Chronic hepatitis B. Hepatitis B, like hepatitis C, is due to a viral infection that causes inflammation and damage to the liver. Chronic infection can lead to damage and inflammation, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.

 

The hepatitis B virus spreads through contact with infected blood, such as by needlestick accident, injection drug use, or receiving a blood transfusion before the mid-1980s. Hepatitis B also spreads through sexual contact with an infected person and from an infected mother to child during childbirth.

 

http://images.emedicinehealth.com/images/slideshow/hepatitis-s1-liver-hepatitis-virus.jpg

 

In the United States, hepatitis B is somewhat uncommon, affecting less than 1 percent of the population, or fewer than one in 100 people.

 

In many areas of the world, however, hepatitis B is common. In some parts of Africa and in most of Asia and the Pacific Islands, about 5 to 7 percent of the population has chronic hepatitis B. In some parts of Africa, more than 8 percent of the population has chronic hepatitis B. For these reasons, hepatitis B is likely the major cause of cirrhosis worldwide. However, in the United States, hepatitis B ranks well behind hepatitis C, alcohol-related liver disease, and NASH.

 

Therapies for chronic hepatitis B now exist and health care providers should treat people with chronic hepatitis B before they develop severe fibrosis or cirrhosis. Unfortunately, many people first realize they have chronic hepatitis B when they develop symptoms of cirrhosis.

 

Hepatitis B is also a preventable disease. Since the 1980s, a hepatitis B vaccine has been available and should be given to newborns and children in the United States. Adults at higher risk of getting hepatitis B should also get the vaccine.

 

Less Common Causes of Cirrhosis:

 

Autoimmune hepatitis. In this form of hepatitis, the body’s immune system attacks liver cells and causes inflammation, damage, and eventually cirrhosis. Normally, the immune system protects people from infection by identifying and destroying bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful foreign substances. In autoimmune diseases, the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own cells and organs.

 

Researchers believe genetics, or inherited genes, may make some people more likely to develop autoimmune diseases. At least 70 percent of those with autoimmune hepatitis are female.

 

Diseases that damage, destroy, or block the bile ducts. Several diseases can damage, destroy, or block the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine, causing bile to back up in the liver and leading to cirrhosis.

 

In adults, the most common of these diseases is primary biliary cirrhosis, a chronic disease that causes the small bile ducts in the liver to become inflamed and damaged and ultimately disappear. Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a disease that causes irritation, scarring, and narrowing of the larger bile ducts of the liver.

 

In infants and children, causes of damage to or disappearance of bile ducts that can lead to cirrhosis include:

 

  • Alagille syndrome, a collection of symptoms that indicates a genetic digestive disorder and leads to a loss of bile ducts in infancy.
  • biliary atresia, a life-threatening condition that affects newborns in which bile ducts are missing. The cause is unknown. Biliary atresia is the most common reason for liver transplantation in children.
  • cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease of the lungs, intestines, pancreas, and bile ducts in which the body does not produce enough fluid and mucus becomes thick and blocks off small bile ducts. This blockage of the bile ducts can lead to cirrhosis.

 

Long-term blockage of the bile ducts by gallstones can also cause cirrhosis. Cirrhosis may also develop if the bile ducts are mistakenly tied off or injured during surgery on the gallbladder or liver.

 

Inherited diseases that affect the liver. Inherited diseases that interfere with how the liver produces, processes, and stores enzymes, proteins, metals, and other substances can cause cirrhosis.

 

These diseases include alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, hemochromatosis, Wilson disease, galactosemia, and glycogen storage diseases.

 

Rare viral infections of the liver. Hepatitis D, or hepatitis delta, and hepatitis E are two rare viral infections of the liver. Hepatitis D infection occurs only in people who have hepatitis B. People infected with chronic hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis D are more likely to develop cirrhosis than people infected with chronic hepatitis B alone.

 

Hepatitis E is a virus found in domestic and wild animals, particularly pigs, and can cause hepatitis in humans. People with weakened immune systems, including people who are liver or kidney transplant recipients or who have acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), can develop chronic hepatitis E. Chronic hepatitis E can cause scarring of the liver and cirrhosis. Current treatments for chronic hepatitis D and E are experimental and only partially effective.

 

Other causes. Other causes of cirrhosis may include:

 

  • reactions to medications taken over a period of time
  • prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • parasitic infections.
  • chronic heart failure with liver congestion, a condition in which blood flow out of the liver is slowed. Liver congestion can also occur after surgery to correct a congenital heart problem—a heart problem that is present at birth.

 

Trauma to the liver or other acute, or short term, causes of damage do not cause cirrhosis. Usually, years of chronic injury are required to cause cirrhosis.

 

If you believe you may be at risk for liver disease from any of these causes, see your doctor as soon as possible.  A simple blood test of your liver enzymes can alert your physician to liver dysfunction which would warrant further investigation.

 

Do you have any of the risk factors for Cirrhosis of the Liver?  Or do you or someone you know have liver disease?  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

 

why you need to stop drinking

 

If you think you may have a problem with alcohol, please see your doctor as soon as possible to discuss it.  I also recommend that you download this free PDF Report: Why You Need to Stop Drinking … and how to get started TODAY!  I believe you will find it informative and helpful.

Do you have any of the risk factors for Cirrhosis of the Liver?  Or do you or someone you know have liver disease?  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

 

 

 

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Fatty Liver and Cirrhosis

Alarming New Liver Statistics

Symptoms of Cirrhosis of the Liver

The Fat Loss Diet I Recommend

Find the Best Bathroom Scale for YOU

Are You Programmed for Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

About Me

Create Your Own Blog

 

Please help others by sharing this post. Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInDigg thisPin on Pinterest

6 comments

  • Robert

    I enjoyed your informative website on cirrhosis of the liver, I have been border line with Fatty liver in my past. I recently was able to chance that with diet and lose the weight I needed to. I’m also still loosing weight as I have not hit my overall goal weight yet.

    I had never heard of fatty liver disease before, even when my doctor told me I had it. I had several questions when I first heard my doctor told me what it was, but you are right it is reversible.

    The main thing in reversing it is taking control of your eating habits and exercise. Exercise was a big key for me as well as I just didn’t realize how lazy I had become, but hearing you have fatty liver was like a kick in the pants. I made a change for the better and like I said I think your article is a direct hit on the subject.

    Thank You,

    Robert

    • admin

      Robert, I am so glad to hear that you asked your doctor questions and took control of your diet to fight fatty liver! You may have literally saved your life by being proactive. Good job!

  • Michael Maamari

    Jeez, this post was as scary as it was informative, haha. I need a wake up call and I really need to stop drinking as much. My uncle had Cirrhosis of the liver and that was because he was overweight, ate horrible food and drank excessively. I definitely don’t want to head down that path. Thank you for all the information. You clearly sound like you know exactly what your talking about and I really hope this post is going to help a lot of people prevent this kind of thing.

    • admin

      Thanks for your comment, Michael. I’m glad this post was scary … much better to be scared than to die of liver disease, which is becoming so common these days.

  • Todd

    Wow, really great post. I wouldn’t have guessed the alcohol was the second leading cause of Cirrhosis of the liver.

    At the same time, you’ve given a number of other causes for the disease as well as some things for people to think about that are at risk for cirrhosis.

    I just wanted to thank you for putting together such a comprehensive post on a really tough condition and medical issue that is all too common.

    Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *