Cirrhosis of the Liver: Definition, Symptoms, Life Expectancy

  • September 17, 2019
  • by Olivia S.
  • general

Liver Cirrhosis: What is Cirrhosis of the Liver?

The definition of liver cirrhosis is essentially liver failure whereby the liver is dysfunctional and cannot carry out its vital functions. It is a disease that develops progressively over a long period. When you injure your liver, the tissue becomes damaged which eventually causes the scar tissue to develop as the liver tries to self-repair. This scar tissue continues to form progressively, which in turn causes the liver to function improperly.

What causes liver cirrhosis? Most people with this illness have a history of long-term alcohol consumption. Other reasons are hepatitis C and B, fatty liver disease (which is not alcohol-related), and a number of hereditary diseases.

When one gets cirrhosis, the damage to their liver is not reversible. However, if it is detected in its early stages, doctors can curb further damage through treatment and advice on certain lifestyle changes.

Many people usually ask, ‘Can you live without a liver?’ No, it’s totally impossible, so it’s highly recommended to monitor the disease’s symptoms early at the onset and take urgent action to manage liver disease.


Cirrhosis of the Liver: Symptoms

When one suffers from cirrhosis of the liver, they start experiencing some physical changes. This deadly disease does not have any warning signs until it reaches the severe stages. Below are some of the symptoms:

  • Feeling weak
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Skin and eye turning yellow
  • Red palms
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Itchy skin
  • Easy bruising and bleeding.

If you experience these symptoms, you need to see a doctor immediately.


Stages of Cirrhosis of the Liver

The diagnosis of liver cirrhosis may be established upon several stages depending on the symptoms that the patients experience.

  1. Stage 1

This is the initial phase of liver cirrhosis at which the early symptoms may be detected. They include an overall feeling of fatigue and feeling unwell with no evident cause. Patients also complain of chronic appetite loss, weight loss, and loss of muscle mass in particular. This stage of cirrhosis may also manifest itself with pain in the liver area and the emergence of small, spider-like blood capillaries in the waist region. Disturbed sleep and red palms are also red flags for the individual to see a doctor and get screened for liver cirrhosis.

If patients are diagnosed at this stage, there is hope for reversing the condition since the liver is not yet damaged severely. This stage is referred to as compensated cirrhosis since, if the doctors eliminate or cure the cause, this illness can be reversed.

  1. Stage 2

As liver cirrhosis progresses, varices develop in the esophagus because of the worsening of portal hypertension (the obstruction of blood flow to the liver because of ascites and varices). Although the cirrhosis of this stage can lead to death within a year, the patient’s liver can still undergo partial reversal if the cause is removed.

  1. Stage 3

At this phase, the ascites develop rapidly. The patient may be experiencing more visible symptoms, which can also be detected through various imaging tests. The liver deteriorates more since the damage is more advanced. The doctor will mostly recommend a liver transplant as the patient’s liver can no longer function properly.

  1. Stage 4

This phase is also known as end-stage cirrhosis. How long can you live with stage 4 cirrhosis? It is the peak of the illness where the varices eventually rupture to cause internal bleeding in the stomach. If the bleeding is not contained, the patient’s life is immediately in danger; however, if the bleeding is controlled, the life expectancy of the patient may be extended for up to one year. The possibility of an urgent liver transplant is required after evaluation to prevent the patient’s death.


Life Expectancy Estimates

What is the life expectancy of a person with liver disease? It depends on the stage of cirrhosis and the lifestyle the patient is living. Research reveals that a person with severe liver cirrhosis can live for two years at most and about 35% reach five years.

If one is lucky to undergo a transplant, they have a chance of living for five more years since the chances of complete healing are not 100%.


Cirrhosis Diet

Most people with this illness should follow a specific diet to control the condition. For instance, they require healthy meals with generous portions of vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. Reducing sodium intake and avoiding over the counter medications is recommended. Also, an alcoholic should immediately stop drinking and indulge in healthy habits.

Overall, with proper management of daily living and timely lifestyle changes, the life expectancy of patients with cirrhosis of the liver may be significantly improved. Individuals with advanced stages of liver cirrhosis definitely need around-the-clock assistance and support in daily functions, which the experts at Buffalo Home Care can provide immediately. Talk to our managers today to get the best qualified assistance for your loved ones, making their life easier and more comfortable even with such a life-changing health condition.

about the author

Olivia S.

Olivia S. has been a caregiver for her parents for 15 years. She has a master's degree in Public Health and has always been passionate about helping people with disabilities. Now Olivia works as a professional caregiver for in-home care services.


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