Cirrhosis refers to irreversible changes that affect normal liver tissues. It leads to damage to functional liver cells. When these functional cells begin to degenerate, the body tries to repair the damage. In the course of trying to do this, this tissue will be replaced by fibrous tissue. As the fibrous tissues grow, the damage would progress and cause cirrhosis. The damage of fibrosis is reversible, but the scarring in cirrhosis is irreversible. Many things can cause cirrhosis, and there are many types, too. Laennec’s cirrhosis is one of the different types. It is the most common cirrhosis type in the U.S. It makes up about 30 to 50 percent of all cirrhosis cases.
Other names for this cirrhosis type are portal cirrhosis and nutritional cirrhosis. 90 percent of those who have this cirrhosis type have problems with alcoholism. So we can say that the primary cause of Laennec’s cirrhosis is chronic and excessive alcohol consumption. To be honest, nobody can contest the close links between cirrhosis and alcohol. However, experts are yet to know the mechanism by which this injury occurs. Some of the complications that may come with cirrhosis include jaundice, kidney failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding. To treat cirrhosis, you must address the root cause. So in the case of portal cirrhosis, the main approach is to abstain from alcohol.
Diagnosis of Laennec’s Cirrhosis
If you ask doctors, they will tell you that the diagnosis of any condition starts from examining the symptoms. But then, in early-stage cirrhosis, there are usually no symptoms. So most times, doctors only cirrhosis during a routine checkup or blood test.
When findings during a routine checkup suggest cirrhosis, doctors will seek to confirm the diagnosis. They do this by combining a series of imaging and laboratory tests. So if your routine checkup makes your doctor suspect cirrhosis, he may call for any of the following tests:
1. Laboratory tests
Your doctor will likely ask you to do some blood tests. This is to check if there are any signs to indicate a liver malfunction. Some of these likely signs include excess bilirubin and certain enzyme levels.
Your doctor may also want to assess your kidney function. One of the best indicators here is the level of creatinine in your blood. This is because liver diseases usually affect the kidney too.
The diagnosis of Cirrhosis is not as important as diagnosing its cause. So when a doctor confirms cirrhosis, his next point of call will be to identify its cause. So the doctor will check you for hepatitis.
After identifying the cause, the next thing your doctor wants to identify is the severity of your condition. Many times, this requires further testing.
2. Imaging tests
There are quite a few noninvasive imaging tests to detect the stiffening or hardening of liver tissue. These include MRE and MRI tests, as well as ultrasound and CT scans.
Aside from these noninvasive tests, there is one invasive procedure. This procedure is a surefire for detecting cirrhosis and its severity. Doctors call this procedure “biopsy”. A biopsy may not be necessary, but it is usually very accurate for identifying the extent, severity, and cause for liver damage.
If you are managing cirrhosis, you may need to undergo regular diagnostic testing to monitor the disease progression, as well as complications. Most times, these are non-invasive imaging tests.
We have talked about the diagnosis of cirrhosis and how doctors check for its cause. Alcohol consumption is not the only possible cause of cirrhosis. It can also occur as a result of viral infections (like hepatitis), glycogen storage problems, cystic fibrosis, obesity, and alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, among many others.
How to Treat Laennec’s Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis treatment has a clear goal. The aim of treatment is to either reverse liver damage or slow its progression. They will also seek to prevent complications or treat any existing complications. Remember, however, that the focus of cirrhosis treatment is usually on its cause.
90 percent of Laennec’s cirrhosis cases have alcohol overuse at its roots. If that is the case, you would need to treat alcohol dependency. If your cirrhosis is due to excessive use of alcohol, you would need to quit drinking.
You may find it hard to quit difficult, if it’s hard, you would need an alcohol addiction treatment program. Anyways, the important thing is to quit drinking. This is very vital if you are treating cirrhosis, regardless of the cause.
In treating cirrhosis, you will also have to limit your intake of fluid and salt. Your doctor will also encourage you to stay physically active. A high-calorie diet with moderately high protein content can be of benefit to some patients.
If your liver keeps on deteriorating, you may need tube feedings and vitamin supplements. Some other medications you may need include diuretics, iron supplements, and antibiotics. Your doctor will prescribe the drugs that you need. Most times, these drugs are to manage complications or prevent them.
Doctors will prescribe vasoconstrictors if you have internal bleeding. He may also prescribe antiemetic drugs to help control nausea. Another common drug type that doctors may prescribe is laxatives. They would help your body to absorb and remove toxins faster from your digestive tract. For portal cirrhosis, beta-blockers would help control portal hypertension.
However, we must keep in mind that cirrhosis has no cure as of the moment. More so, your liver is responsible for drug metabolism. And a damaged liver will have problems efficiently metabolizing the drugs you’re taking. As such, you must take caution with drugs if you have cirrhosis.
In extreme cases where drugs are no longer helpful, surgery may be necessary. You may need liver transplantation for end-stage cirrhosis. If you don’t need a transplant, varices especially may need surgical intervention. They are one of the possible complications of cirrhosis.
It is very easy to take care of early-stage Laennec’s cirrhosis. Your condition will be stable if you abstain from drinking alcohol. A good, healthy diet is also very important. But if you keep on drinking, the damage progresses and may cause serious complications including liver failure, coma, and even death.