Cirrhosis describes a liver that’s scarred, shrunken, or hardened. After years of damage, cirrhosis marks a point at which the liver can no longer repair itself. It gradually fails, at first leading to unpleasant complications and then death. Depending on when cirrhosis of the liver is diagnosed, recovery is often possible. As with so many other diseases, prevention and prompt diagnosis can make all the difference in the world.
Cirrhosis Risk Factors
The biggest risk factors for cirrhosis are chronic hepatitis B or C and chronic overconsumption of alcohol. Risk of cirrhosis is further increased by autoimmune liver disease, fatty liver disease, and rare inherited diseases such as hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease. In practice, the best way to prevent most cases of cirrhosis is for a person to know their tolerance for alcohol and to never mix alcohol with other drugs.
When someone is in an earlier stage of cirrhosis, it is often possible to reverse the condition with things like a cirrhosis diet. Such a diet is about making life as easy as possible for the liver by reducing sodium consumption to reduce swelling and maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re suffering from one of the diseases that may increase your risk of cirrhosis, like fatty liver disease, you may want to consider a liver-friendly fatty liver disease diet.
Cirrhosis of the Liver: Life Expectancy at End Stages
During stage 1, cirrhosis is so mild it’s often difficult for physicians to detect. The most common symptom is fatigue. The cirrhosis is still reversible during this stage, but not enough liver tissue has been damaged to produce obvious symptoms of disease. Patients with stage 1 cirrhosis have a 99% 1-year survival rate.
During stage 2, scar tissue increasingly builds up within the liver, replacing liver cells. Portal hypertension appears in the liver, which is increased blood pressure in that particular region of the body, making cirrhosis easier to diagnose. At this stage, partial reversal of cirrhosis is still possible. The one-year survival rate for patients in stage 2 is 98%.
During stage 3, fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity. Clinical symptoms become obvious, including weight loss, yellowing skin, fatigue, and confusion. Cirrhosis has become irreversible. Diagnosed at stage 3, the 1-year survival rate is 80%. It’s during stage 3 that a liver transplant may be recommended. There’s always a risk a person’s body will reject the transplant, but if accepted, 80% of transplant patients survive more than 5 years past their operation.
During stage 4, an immense amount of scar tissue has built up. The structure of the scar tissue has created a risk of rupture within the liver. That can cause internal bleeding and become immediately life-threatening. With respect to stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver life expectancy, roughly 43% of patients survive past 1 year.
Life Expectancy Estimates
One thing to keep in mind is cirrhosis of the liver life expectancy at end stages is hard to predict. Each case is unique to the patient. Doctors can provide an estimate more specific to the health of their patients, but these are ultimately educated guesses.
Cirrhosis of the liver can be a grim diagnosis, which is why prevention and early detection are so important. Caught early, it’s possible to turn cirrhosis around and get back to living a normal life.