Causes of liver cirrhosis

Cirrhosis can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption, hepatitis, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a condition in which fat build-up on the liver causing inflammation. The risk of NASH, and therefore cirrhosis, increases in people with obesity, diabetes, or high cholesterol. Certain medications can cause cirrhosis, but this is less common.3

Signs and symptoms of liver cirrhosis

Liver disease typically does not cause symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms are present, it is usually because the liver has become scarred from damage, and cirrhosis has developed. 4 Progression to cirrhosis can often be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes.1

Symptoms in the earlier stages may include:

  • Loss of appetite or nausea4
  • Feeling tired4
  • Sensation of tenderness in upper abdomen4

Diagnosing cirrhosis can be challenging, as symptoms in the early stages are non-specific. 1 Symptoms tend to become noticeable when the liver damage worsens and affects the liver’s ability to function.4

When this happens, the following symptoms may present:

  • Itching1
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice) 1
  • Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites) 1
  • Foot and ankle swelling (edema) 1
  • Easy bruising 1
  • Changes in mental function1

If you develop persistent symptoms of cirrhosis you should seek advice from your healthcare team.4 The healthcare team can then assess you and develop a plan for any further necessary tests. 1

Liver diseases often go undetected until diagnosis and therapy


  1. British Liver Trust. Cirrhosis of the liver. Available at: (Last accessed October 2020)
  2. NHS Inform. About cirrhosis. Available at: (Last accessed October 2020)
  3. NHS Inform. Causes of cirrhosis. Available at: (Last accessed October 2020)
  4. NHS Inform. Symptoms of cirrhosis. Available at: (Last accessed October 2020)

May 2021. GL-HEP-XIF-2000177

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