Liver cirrhosisCredit: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Wikimedia Commons

The liver is an important organ of the body which functions as a filter to control infections by removing toxins and bacteria in the blood. It also aids in the processing of drugs, nutrients, hormones and controls blood clotting. With cirrhosis, the liver starts to malfunction and deteriorate as its tissues are replaced by permanent scars. This malfunction can lead to complete shutdown of the organ. Unlike kidneys, liver does not have a partner organ in the body, which means failure of this organ may eventually lead to death since there isn’t anything to filter toxins in the blood anymore. Though cirrhosis sounds hopeless, the survival rate depends on the lifestyle of the patient and can even progress to a normal life if treated immediately and with proper diet.

Symptoms of cirrhosis depends on what stage the person is in, but generally, patients suffer fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, bloody stool and vomiting. In some cases, swelling of abdomen, brownish urine color, enlarged liver and jaundice may be observed. Cirrhosis is diagnosed up to fourth stage and more symptoms arise as the disease develops.

            What are the causes of cirrhosis? Severe alcoholism is the most common cause of cirrhosis as the liver cells are destroyed by heavy and frequent alcohol drinking. This is common to people who drink alcohol frequently for the past years or decades before the liver starts to deteriorate and attack its own cells. Other causes are diabetes, obesity, hepatitis and other viral infections infecting the liver. To obese and alcoholic individuals with cirrhosis, the fight against this disease would be very critical. Also, people who previously suffered from heart attack and those with hepatitis are found to be on higher risk in acquiring cirrhosis according to research studies. It is advised that controlling alcohol intake would reduce the risk for this disease and would be better if abstinence is made.

How long will you live when you have liver cirrhosis? The answer would depend on the stage of cirrhosis the patient is in. Changing the lifestyle, diet and avoiding alcohol would be best for cirrhosis patients in the early stages of the disease. The physician may also order the patient to avoid taking drugs even vitamins and supplements as the liver is sensitive to these; it may be hard for the organ to process them metabolically. Hospital treatment is also advised to monitor the progress of the disease. To people who live a healthy life and diet but diagnosed with cirrhosis due to liver infections, chances are big for them to live a normal life. But to chronic alcohol drinkers and people infected with hepatitis, the survival rate gives an average of 5 years. Talk to your doctor about your condition and ask him about the prognosis of your disease – on how long will you live with liver cirrhosis.