Cirrhosis is a condition that causes the slow deterioration of the liver due to scarring. Over time, the liver will malfunction and not be able to perform its primary functions of making protein, fighting infections, storing energy and cleaning blood.
Scar tissue forms on the liver from an injury or long-term illness. The most common causes are hepatitis and chronic alcoholism. Obesity, bile duct disorders and various inherited diseases can also cause cirrhosis. Symptoms include nosebleeds, easy bruising or cuts that are slow to stop bleeding, extra sensitivity to medicines and kidney failure.
About five percent of people with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver cancer, so treatment is imperative. Existing scar tissue will not heal, but treatment can keep the damage from spreading or getting worse. A healthy liver is able to regenerate most of its own cells when they become damaged, but with end-stage cirrhosis, the liver can no longer effectively replace damaged cells. The most extreme cases of cirrhosis may require a liver transplant.