Cirrhosis

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Definition & Facts

Cirrhosis is a condition in which your liver is scarred and permanently damaged. Scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents your liver from working normally. As cirrhosis gets worse, your liver begins to fail.

Symptoms & Causes

Cirrhosis has many signs and symptoms, such as fatigue and severe itchy skin. They may not appear until the liver is badly damaged. Causes include alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic hepatitis C, and chronic hepatitis B.

Diagnosis

Doctors diagnose cirrhosis based on your medical history, a physical exam, and the results of tests. Tests include blood tests such as liver function tests and tests for viral infections, imaging tests, and liver biopsy.

Treatment

Doctors do not have specific treatments that can cure cirrhosis. However, they can treat many of the diseases that cause cirrhosis. Treating the underlying causes of cirrhosis may keep your cirrhosis from getting worse and may help prevent liver failure.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

If you have cirrhosis, you should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Talk with your doctor, a dietitian, or nutritionist about healthy eating. Avoid foods and drinks that can damage your liver, such as shellfish and alcohol.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

Related Diagnostic Tests

Related Research

Your Digestive System & How it Works

The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract-also called the digestive tract-and the liver, pancreas, and the gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus.

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank Jasmohan S. Bajaj, M.D., Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine