Chronic liver disease causes can be any condition that results in the gradual degradation and renewal of the tissue cells with a body’s liver. This process usually results in fibrosis or cirrhosis and can be potentially fatal in cases of chronic liver failure. The classification of the sources of chronic liver diseases fall into five groupings: viral causes (hepatitis B and C or cytomegalovirus), metabolic causes (Haemochromatosis or Wilson’s disease), autoimmune response causes (primary biliary cirrhosis or primary sclerosing cholangitis), toxin-related causes (alcoholic liver disease or nitrofurantoin), and other miscellaneous causes (right heart failure). However, the main cause of chronic liver disease is overuse of alcohol, leading to cirrhosis and hepatitis. Therefore, the highest risk group is people who are prone to alcohol abuse. Also, persons suffering from malnutrition and those who have tattoos are also at risk of chronic liver problems.
The symptoms associated with chronic liver disease depend on the level of degeneration within the liver. The beginning stages are usually symptomless and can only be detected by specific medical tests. Liver diseases that have processed to hepatitis can be recognized by mental confusion, severe jaundice, blood clotting problems, or intestinal bleeding. Those cases that have reached the level of cirrhosis can be noted by the following: nerve problems, male breast growth, Dupuytren’s contractions, hair loss, kidney failure, redness of palms, lack of appetite, testicular shrinkage, weakness, weight loss, itching, gallstones, and ascites.
Cirrhosis is regarded as a possible end stage of many liver diseases and occurs when healthy liver tissue becomes damaged and is replaced by scar tissue. The replacement process does not happen at once, but takes place over a gradual course of time. The new scarred tissue prevents the regeneration or healing of liver cells. The liver will lose the ability to function as the scarred tissue spreads. Around 10% of all heavy drinkers will eventually reach the stage of cirrhosis. It is thought that cirrhosis is generally reached after ten years of heavy drinking or more.
Unfortunately, once a patient has sustained damage to the liver, that damage is not reversible. However, by utilizing behavioral changes and an overall management system, chronic liver disease can be controlled and the damage to the liver can be delayed or even stopped in some cases. The most important step for a patient is to stop consuming alcohol. Also, being aware of diet requirements and avoiding overly fatty or hard to digest foods can help. Vitamins can be taken as well, increasing the levels of essential nutrients within a patient’s body. Regular visits to a local physician should be done to develop a plan to combat the disease and to monitor progress. In some cases, chronic liver damage can be treated by having a liver transplant. Chronic liver disease causes can be manageable sources or potentially fatal, but a doctor should always be consulted to decide upon the best course of action for those patients who have contracted a condition that may be the cause of liver problems.