What is Cirrhosis of the Liver??

Cirrhosis is a complication arising out of many diseases of the Liver.

It is characterized by abnormal structure of the liver and functions of the liver get affected badly.

The cells in the liver are destroyed and the inflammation caused by this and the dying liver cells causes scar tissue to form.

The cells put up a last ditch fight and multiply themselves to replace the dead cells. This results in newly formed liver cells within the scar tissue.

Contrary to popular misconceptions,Cirrhosis is not caused by excessive consumption of alcohol alone, though it is a major culprit.

There are many other causes like fat, certain medications, viruses, toxic metals like iron and copper which could accumulate in the liver due to genetic diseases, and autoimmune liver disease where the body's immune system itself attacks the liver.

The liver is an organ that works silently and efficiently. It is a very important organ that performs many critical functions in the body.

It is involved in the production of a substance that acts as a coagulant for the blood. The clotting proteins that it produces aid in the clotting of blood. The other vital function it performs is removal of toxic substances that are very harmful for the human body.

It helps to remove toxins that are present in drugs that we normally have to take to cure any illness. Without the liver functioning efficiently these toxins would remain in the body and pose a serious hazard.

Another important role the liver plays is that it regulates the supply of glucose and lipids to the blood. These substances are used by the body as fuel, however if the supply is not regulated, complications could be serious.

The liver and blood have an intimate relationship as the toxins from the liver can only be transported out of the system by the blood. Most of the blood supply to the liver comes from the intestinal veins.

The main vein is called the portal vein. As the portal vein passes through the liver it breaks up into a number of smaller veins which are in close contact with the liver cells, which are actually lined up along the veins. This proximity allows the exchange of substances between the cells and the blood in the veins.

After the exchange takes place the blood is rerouted through small veins that join to form a single vein that is called the hepatic vein that returns the blood to the heart.

When the liver is afflicted by cirrhosis, this unique relationship between the liver cells and the blood is destroyed. Though new cells are formed and take on the role of the deceased ones, the ability to remove the toxins gets greatly restricted.

Moreover the scarred tissue in the liver obstructs the blood flow through the liver and creates chaos. Due to this obstruction, the pressure in the portal vein increases and causes portal hypertension. Due to this increased pressure and subsequent hypertension the portal vein seeks other routes to take the blood back to the heart.

When new routes are created, these veins tend to bypass the liver and the exchange of substances is greatly affected. This is the major cause of cirrhosis of the liver.

The second reason for complications caused by cirrhosis is the disturbed relationship between the cells in the liver and the channels through which the bile flows.

Bile aids in digestion and helps in eliminating toxic substances from the body. It is channelized through small ducts that join together to form larger ducts that help the bile to reach the small intestine to aid in digestion.

Though there are no specific symptoms for cirrhosis, some of them are yellowing of the skin or jaundice caused by the accumulation of billirubin in the blood, a general feeling of weakness, fatigue and loss of appetite.

As alcohol has found to be a common cause, moderation in consumption would definitely help. Abstinence leads to improvement in the functioning of the liver.