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Cirrhosis

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Cirrhosis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when inflammation and scarring damage the liver. The liver is just under the right ribcage and is one of your largest and most important organs. “It’s a giant warehouse and processing center for your body,” says infectious disease doctor Margaret Hoffman-Terry, MD, with Lehigh Valley Health Network. “Everything you eat, drink, breathe and absorb through your skin eventually reaches the liver, where it’s either absorbed or removed.”

Symptoms of cirrhosis include nausea, lack of appetite, weight loss, tiredness and swelling in the legs and belly. If left untreated, severe cirrhosis can result in internal bleeding, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), unclear thinking, hand tremors and coma.

Cirrhosis is the 12th-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

“A healthy liver keeps your body healthy,” says health network gastroenterologist Tanveer Imam, MD. “While it’s very resilient, the liver is not indestructible, so it’s important to take care of it.”

Alcohol abuse and chronic viral hepatitis are the most common causes of cirrhosis. Other causes include:

  • Use of certain drugs
  • Chemical exposure
  • Bile duct obstruction
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Obstruction of outflow of blood from the liver (for example, Budd-Chiari syndrome)
  • Heart and blood vessel disturbances
  • Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • High blood galactose levels
  • High blood tyrosine levels at birth
  • Glycogen storage disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • Hereditary accumulation of too much copper (Wilson’s disease) or iron (hemochromatosis)

Need Help?

Call 888-402-LVHN (5846) Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Chat Online

Walk-In Care

If you have a minor illness, you can walk into an ExpressCare or schedule a video visit. For allergies, ear infections, cold and flu symptoms, rash and sprains.

Find an ExpressCARE Schedule a video visit

Schedule Online

Book the next available "new patient" appointment with the click of a button.

Schedule Now

How You Can Help Our Mission How You Can Help Our Mission

This is a non-profit organization. Please consider donating to help heal, comfort and care.

Learn more »