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Cirrhosis of Liver
Introduction and CausesSymptoms and Effects
PreventionTreatment and Self-help

Introduction and Causes
Symptoms and Effects
Treatment and Self-help

What is liver cirrhosis?

Liver cirrhosis is a condition that results from permanent damage to liver cells followed by scarring of the liver.

What causes it?

The major causes of liver damage and resultant cirrhosis are:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Infection e.g. chronic viral hepatitis
  • Certain drugs if taken in large amount
  • Prolong exposure to certain environmental toxins
  • Inherited conditions or other diseases e.g. metabolic diseases, blockage of the bile ducts

What are the effects?

Cirrhosis of liver will lead to:

  • Bleeding oesophagus and intestines, like vomiting blood, and bloody or tarry stool
  • Mental confusion

Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis are among the twelve leading causes of death in Hong Kong. The number of registered deaths due to this disease in men was higher than that in their female counterparts, and the ratio is 1.8 to 1 in 2012.

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Do You Know...

Most patients with early stage of liver disease will not have obvious symptoms or signs. Therefore, it is important to have regular health checks and early treatment. Viral hepatitis B is a major cause of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis of men in Hong Kong, and vaccine against this infection is now available. All newborn babies are entitled to this free vaccination.

What are the common symptoms?

In the early stages of cirrhosis, the person may have few symptoms such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue and weakness

As the liver function decreases, some symptoms the person may notice include:

  • Yellowish of skin and eye
  • Passing dark urine
  • Swelling of legs, feet and abdomen
  • Bleed and bruise easily

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How can I prevent it?

There are many ways to protect your liver:

  • Reduce alcohol intake.
  • Receive hepatitis B vaccine to protect your liver against hepatitis B infection.
  • Avoid taking unnecessary medications and street drugs.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, avoid high fat and cholesterol foods to reduce risk of liver related diseases such as gallstones.


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What is the treatment?

There is no cure for liver cirrhosis. However, there are treatments such as medication along with lifestyle changes that can reduce further liver damage. In severe case, liver transplantation may be performed. The choice of an appropriate treatment is based on the severity of the symptoms, the extent to which they affect the patient's life, and the presence of any other medical conditions.

How can I help myself?

If you have a diagnosis of liver cirrhosis, there are many things you can do to help yourself, including:

  • Abstain from alcohol.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Have a balanced diet and avoid high fat food.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly under medical supervision.
  • Avoid stress.

If you have any suspicions, you should seek medical advice.

Health Alert

There is no cure for cirrhosis. Cirrhotic patients also have a much higher chance for liver cancer. Therefore, prevention of cirrhosis is very important.


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