Glossary of Medical Terms

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when inflammation and scarring damage the liver. Alcohol abuse and chronic viral hepatitis are the most common causes of cirrhosis, but it can also be caused by medicines or by another disease (such as hemochromatosis).

Symptoms of cirrhosis include nausea, lack of appetite and 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 treated by taking care of the underlying cause of the liver damage and by treating other problems, such as internal bleeding, that result from the liver damage. In some cases, a liver transplant may be possible.

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