Cirrhosis: the main complications of the disease

Cirrhosis is a chronic disease that affects the liver . It evolves slowly and quietly until it causes the organ to malfunction and its total failure. It is characterized by the formation of scar tissue in place of liver cells, we can notice, for example, fibrosis and nodules .

These formations, as we have explained, take the place of healthy liver cells and, therefore, little by little it fails to fulfill its functions. Therefore, when cirrhosis is not properly treated, there is a risk that the liver will stop completely , in addition to developing several complications.

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There are several factors that may lead to development of cirrhosis, such as excessive consumption of alcohol , fatty liver (steatosis) and hepatitis type B and C . This problem has not yet been cured , and the definitive solution can only be achieved through liver transplantation . However, some patients can manage symptoms with medication.

Its early diagnosis and medical care, is critical to maintaining cirrhosis under control . After all, it damages the liver in several ways and can affect other body functions. That’s what we’ll talk about next. Read on to find out what are the complications of cirrhosis and understand why it needs to be treated.


It is the accumulation of fluid inside the belly . It can also be correlated with swelling in the legs and shortness of breath by the accumulation of fluid in the chest, in which case the condition is called a hydrothorax.

Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis

The fluid accumulated in the abdominal region can undergo changes that lead to the manifestation of an infection . It happens spontaneously , that is, without diagnosing a secondary intraperitoneal cause, which could be a perforated viscera, for example. In some cases this condition is asymptomatic , but it can trigger fever, abdominal pain and serious infections.

Hepatic encephalopathy

When the patient has cirrhosis, it can also happen that toxins accumulate in the blood or reach the brain , because the liver cannot remove them. This condition leads to a malfunction of the central nervous system , triggering neuropsychiatric abnormalities such as personality changes, coma and even the individual’s death. It is possible to notice this accumulation of toxins through:

  • mental confusion;
  • concentration problems;
  • forgetfulness;
  • changes in sleep patterns;
  • loss of personal care.

Hepatorenal syndrome

Malfunctioning of the liver, as we explained, can affect the functions of other organs, and this is what happens to the kidneys. Patients with severe medical conditions may experience rapid deterioration of kidney function.

Liver cancer

Another severe complication of cirrhosis, when not properly monitored and treated, is the development of tumors in the liver . This means that this disease also favors the manifestation of liver cancer , a problem that, among other therapies, is usually treated with surgery or liver transplantation.

Therefore, one of the initial measures when cirrhosis is diagnosed is screening for possible tumors in patients. Tests such as alpha-fetoprotein dosage and abdominal ultrasound are performed every six months.

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It is very important to stress that cirrhosis is a dangerous disease, since, as you have seen, it cannot be cured in fact by conservative therapies and also brings worrisome complications to the individual’s general health. Therefore, the ideal is to prevent this problem and do periodic monitoring, if you are in a risk group.


by Abdullah Sam
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