What is Alcoholic Cirrhosis?
Alcoholic cirrhosis is late-stage scarring of the liver caused by chronic alcoholism. The liver is an important organ that filters blood and toxins, as well as creates bile which assists the body in absorbing fat. When an individual consumes large amounts of alcohol over time, the liver’s healthy tissue is replaced with scar tissue. As this disease progresses, more of the healthy tissue is replaced with scar tissue, resulting in a liver that does not function properly.
Common symptoms associated with alcoholic cirrhosis include:
- Yellow coloring in the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Portal hypertension
- Itchy skin
- Swelling of the feet, ankles or legs
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
This condition can lead to serious complications, known as decompensated cirrhosis. Complications may include a buildup of fluid in the stomach known as ascites, mental confusion, internal bleeding or jaundice.
How is Alcoholic Cirrhosis Diagnosed?
In order to properly diagnose alcoholic cirrhosis, your provider will speak with you regarding your medical history, your drinking habits and history and your symptoms. There are also some tests that can be performed to confirm cirrhosis such as testing for anemia, high blood ammonia level, blood sugar levels, liver enzyme tests and portal hypertension, just to name a few. These tests can also help to rule out other conditions that may also affect the liver.
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Alcoholic Cirrhosis Treatment Options
Unfortunately, alcoholic cirrhosis cannot usually be reversed. However, there are some treatment options that can help to slow the progression of the disease and reduce the symptoms. Treatment options may include:
Stop Drinking Alcohol
It is critical that individuals with alcoholic cirrhosis stop consuming alcohol. Those who are having difficulty with this can speak to their doctor regarding treatment programs for alcohol addiction.
Certain medications to slow the progression or reduce symptoms may be prescribed, including corticosteroids, insulin, calcium channel blockers, antioxidants or S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe).
For those whose liver fails due to alcoholic cirrhosis, a liver transplant is an option. However, in order to be considered a candidate, an individual must be sober for at least six months.
Nutritional and Diet Changes
Alcohol abuse may lead to malnutrition, so consulting with a nutritionist may be beneficial. Patients with this condition may also require extra protein in their diets to help reduce the chances of developing brain disease.
Your South Denver GI Team
At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Alcoholic Cirrhosis or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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