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Age-related diseases: cirrhosis

This blog is the tenth part of a new series that builds upon a previous blog that discussed common chronic diseases for seniors. The tenth and final blog will focus on cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis is a progressive condition that involves permanent scarring of the liver. Many liver diseases and conditions such as chronic alcoholism and hepatitis can cause cirrhosis. Cirrhosis results in impaired liver function due to the replacement of healthy tissue with scar tissue. It is classified into 4 stages, ranging from inflammation of the liver to liver failure.

Risk factors include consuming large amounts of alcohol, hepatitis, metabolic syndrome, and being overweight. Cirrhosis is a relatively common condition, affecting roughly 1 in 400 adults in the United States.

Upper abdominal pain, redness on the palms of your hands, and nausea are early symptoms of cirrhosis. However, as liver function gets worse, people may experience internal bleeding, itchy skin, and darker urine. Diagnosis involves using a combination of a physical exam, medical history, blood tests, and imaging tests.

You can reduce your risk of developing cirrhosis by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, reducing your alcohol consumption, and protecting yourself against hepatitis by getting vaccinated.

Treatment for cirrhosis can range from lifestyle changes to reduce the stress on your liver to liver transplantation.

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This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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