The liver plays a vital role in many of the body’s functions. It stores nutrients, produces hormones, and detoxifies any harmful products that enter the body.¹ Cirrhosis can lead to the liver being unable to perform its usual functions, which can have serious effects on the body and lead to complications.²
Development of liver cirrhosis
Liver cirrhosis is an irreversible condition that develops from sustained long-term liver damage. This sustained damage leads to scarring of the liver tissue. As healthy liver tissue is replaced by scarred tissue, liver cirrhosis develops. Cirrhosis can eventually lead to liver failure.3
The term cirrhosis is derived from ‘kirrhos’, the Greek word for tawny, and ‘osis’, the Greek word for condition.4 Liver cirrhosis often causes the skin and eyes to turn yellow,2 which is where the condition gets its name.
Cirrhosis doesn’t appear overnight. It develops following the progression of liver disease through other stages, including liver scarring.2
The liver can tolerate a certain amount of damage and still function well.2 Eventually, however, cirrhosis can become so severe that it leads to liver failure, where the liver stops working.3
Liver cirrhosis is a huge problem all over the world. In 2017, there were 122 million cases of cirrhosis worldwide. Globally, cirrhosis is most commonly caused by hepatitis viruses B and C. It is predicted that non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) will soon become the most common cause of cirrhosis. Alcohol-related liver disease is another common cause of cirrhosis.5 Given the size of the problem, it is essential that healthcare professionals understand liver disease and its treatment options. Although it is not possible to cure cirrhosis, options are available to slow the progression or manage the symptoms.3 There are also factors that increase cirrhosis risk2 that can be addressed to prevent cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis doesn’t appear overnight. It develops following the progression of liver disease through other stages, including liver scarring.
- The Hepatitis C Trust. The Liver. Available at: http://www.hepctrust.org.uk/liver (Last accessed: November 2020)
- British Liver Trust. Cirrhosis of the liver. Available at: https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/information-and-support/living-with-a-liver-condition/liver-conditions/cirrhosis/ (Last accessed: November 2020)
- NHS Inform. Cirrhosis. Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/cirrhosis#symptoms-of-cirrhosis (Last accessed: November 2020)
- Moustafa et al., Merit Research Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences. 2016;4(7): 329-343
- Sepanlou et al., The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2020; 5(3): 245-266
May 2021. GL-HEP-XIF-2000177