What Causes Cirrhosis of the Liver?

What Causes Cirrhosis of the Liver?

Cirrhosis of the liver is a late stage of scarring (fibrosis) of the liver caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis and chronic alcoholism. Each time your liver is injured, it tries to repair itself. In the process, scar tissue forms. As the cirrhosis progresses, more and more scar tissue forms, making it difficult for the liver to function.

Chronic alcoholism and hepatitis C are the most common causes of cirrhosis in the United States. Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver. Other causes include fatty liver disease and chronic hepatitis B.

Cirrhosis occurs in response to liver injury, which can be caused by a range of conditions, including:

  • Alcohol abuse: Long-term and heavy alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic liver disease, one of the leading causes of cirrhosis.
  • Chronic viral hepatitis: Chronic infection with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or other less common hepatitis viruses can cause liver inflammation and damage, leading to cirrhosis over time.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): This condition is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver in people who do not consume excessive alcohol. Over time, NAFLD can progress to cirrhosis.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis: In autoimmune hepatitis, the body’s immune system attacks the liver, leading to chronic inflammation and eventual cirrhosis.
  • Genetic disorders: Certain genetic conditions, such as hemochromatosis (excessive iron accumulation in the liver) and Wilson’s disease (abnormal copper metabolism), can cause cirrhosis.
  • Biliary obstruction: Long-term blockage of the bile ducts can lead to liver damage and cirrhosis. This blockage can result from conditions like primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, or bile duct strictures.
  • Drugs and toxins: Prolonged exposure to certain medications, toxins, and chemicals can cause liver damage and eventually cirrhosis.

It’s important to note that cirrhosis is a serious condition that can progress over time and may lead to liver failure. Early detection and management of the underlying causes can help prevent or slow down the progression of cirrhosis. If you suspect you or someone you know may have liver-related issues, it’s crucial to seek medical advice and evaluation from a healthcare professional.

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