Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver caused by continuous long-term liver damage. Scar tissue replaceshealthy tissue in the liver and prevents the liver working properly.

The damage caused by cirrhosis can't be reversed and can eventually become so extensive that your liver stops functioning. This is called liver failure.

Cirrhosis can be fatal if the liver fails. However, it usuallytakesyears forthe conditionto reach this stage and treatment can help slow its progression.

Each year around 4,000 people in the UK die from cirrhosis, and 700 people with the condition need a Liver transplant to survive.

Signs and symptoms

There are usually few symptoms in the early stages of cirrhosis. However, as your liver loses its ability to function properly, you're likely to experience a loss of appetite, nausea anditchy skin.

Symptoms in the later stages can include jaundice , vomiting blood, dark, tarry-looking stools, and a build-up of fluid in the legs (oedema) and abdomen (ascites).

It's likely it will overtake alcohol and hepatitis C as the most common cause of cirrhosis.

Less common causes of cirrhosis include hepatitis B infection and inherited liver diseases, such as haemochromatosis .

In this case, a Liver transplant is the only treatment option.

Using a condom during sex and not injecting drugs will reduce your risk of developing hepatitis B and C.

A vaccine forhepatitis B is available, but there's currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 4 Jan 2017