Cirrhosis is late-stage scarring of the liver, according to Mayo Clinic. It occurs as the result of liver disease and other conditions, including chronic alcoholism. Cirrhosis limits the liver's ability to carry out its vital functions, including filtering the blood and removing toxins from the body.
Damage done by cirrhosis is permanent, reports Mayo Clinic. However, with early diagnosis and intervention, it is possible to limit further damage. If the underlying condition continues to cause damage, the liver becomes less effective at completing its normal tasks. In advanced stages, cirrhosis becomes life threatening.
The liver is the largest organ in the human body and weighs about 3 pounds, according to the American Liver Foundation. Chronic alcohol abuse is the most common cause of cirrhosis in the United States. Drinking too much alcohol causes inflammation of the liver that eventually results in cirrhosis. However, the amount of alcohol that causes cirrhosis differs for each person.
Hepatitis C, a viral form of the disease, is the second leading cause of cirrhosis, reports the American Liver Foundation. One of four people with chronic hepatitis C develops cirrhosis. Hepatitis B and D cause cirrhosis in some patients.
When cirrhosis is beyond treatment, the American Liver Foundation indicates a liver transplant may be the best option.