What Are the Stages of Cirrhosis?

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Cirrhosis is the irreversible scarring, or fibrosis, of the liver and comprises a late stage in liver disease, explains Mayo Clinic. Advanced cirrhosis leads to liver failure which is life-threatening. Cirrhosis cannot be reversed once it occurs, but future damage can be limited if the underlying causes are identified and treated. The stages of liver disease are inflammation, fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver failure, according to the American Liver Foundation.

Liver disease is progressive and grows gradually worse over weeks or years. Mayo Clinic explains that there are many causes of liver disease, with common causes being chronic alcohol abuse and hepatitis B or hepatitis C infections. In all liver disease, healthy liver cells are damaged and as the liver attempts to repair itself, scar tissue, or fibrosis, develops. As more scar tissue forms, it blocks the blood flow through the liver, and the liver no longer functions properly.

With early stages of liver disease, the damage can be reversed with proper diagnosis and treatment. With cirrhosis, the treatment goal is to limit future damage. For example, if a person’s liver damage is caused by chronic alcohol abuse, the treatment is to stop drinking alcohol. Symptoms of cirrhosis include bleeding or bruising easily, jaundice or yellowing of the eyes or skin, swelling of the abdomen or legs, mental confusion or memory loss, fatigue and spider-shaped blood vessels in the skin. The treatment for liver failure is a liver transplant, according to Mayo Clinic.