What Are the Stages of Liver Cirrhosis?


Quick Answer

The first two stages of liver cirrhosis are inflammation and fibrosis. If left untreated, fibrosis continues to occur, reaching the third stage when liver damage cannot be reversed. In the final and advanced stage, liver cirrhosis leads to liver failure with serious symptoms and complications, states the American Liver Foundation.

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Full Answer

In the first stage of cirrhosis, the liver becomes swollen, tender and inflamed. Inflammation indicates the presence of inflammatory immune cells as the body attempts to heal an injury or fight infection in the liver. However, an inflamed liver causes no obvious symptoms and can be treated if it is diagnosed, explains the American Liver Foundation.

In fibrosis, the second stage, scar tissue begins to grow in the inflamed liver, replacing the healthy liver tissue. Although there are no obvious symptoms, liver function reduces in this stage. However, the healthy liver tissues compensate for the non-functional fibrous tissues. In the third stage, fibrosis progresses leading to irreversible liver damage. This stage is characterized by the first few symptoms of liver cirrhosis, such as jaundice, bleeding in the liver, itchy skin, increased insulin resistance and sensitivity to medications, impaired mental functioning, problems with sleeping and memory lapses, reports the American Liver Foundation.

In its final stage, liver cirrhosis causes liver failure with symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fatigue, confusion, disorientation and extreme sleepiness. The patient is also at an increased risk of coma and death, says the American Liver Foundation.

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