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 What is Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is a disease that affects the liver.

The liver is responsible for a variety of tasks in the body, including filtering toxins from the blood and producing bile to help digest food.

When the liver is damaged, it can no longer perform these tasks effectively.
This can lead to a number of health problems, including cirrhosis.

There are several different stages of cirrhosis. The earlier stages may not cause any symptoms, but as the disease progresses, symptoms can include fatigue, nausea, weight loss, and yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Cirrhosis can eventually lead to liver failure and death. There is no cure for cirrhosis, but there are treatments available that can help improve your diagnosis.

In this article we will touch some of the most important facts about cirrhosis and what you need to know.

What Causes Cirrhosis

The main cause of cirrhosis is long-term damage to the liver.

This can be caused by a number of things that includes the following:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Hepatitis B & C
  • Genetics
  • Underlying autoimmune disease
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet or lifestyle

What Are the Different Stages of Cirrhosis?


There are four different stages of cirrhosis, and the treatment options vary depending on the stage of cirrhosis.

Stage 1:  Inflammation

In this early stage, your liver becomes enlarged or inflamed. Many people with liver inflammation don’t experience symptoms. If the inflammation continues, permanent damage can occur.

Stage 2:  Fibrosis

Fibrosis is often the result of an inflamed liver that begins to scar. The scar tissue that is generated in this stage can take the place of healthy liver tissue, yet the scarred tissue cannot perform the same functions. This can start to affect your liver’s ability to function optimally. Fibrosis can be difficult to detect, but early diagnosis and treatment is important for preventing further damage.

Stage 3:  Cirrhosis

In the cirrhosis stage, severe scarring has built up on your liver. Because there’s less healthy liver tissue, it becomes very difficult for your liver to function properly. You may now begin to experience symptoms of liver disease.

Stage 4:  Liver Failure

Liver failure is the term used to describe the complete stoppage of liver function. This is the final stage of many diseases, and at this point the liver cannot be repaired itself or with treatments. The only option for recovery is a liver transplant.



Symptoms of Cirrhosis


The symptoms of cirrhosis vary depending on the stage of the disease.

In the early stages, there may be few or no symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:


  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Mental confusion


Treatment Options

There are a variety of treatments available for those suffering from liver failure. One common treatment approach is to address the underlying cause of liver damage.

For example, antiviral medications can be used to treat a viral hepatitis infection, or immune suppressing medication can be given to treat autoimmune hepatitis.

In the early stages, treatment may involve changes to your diet and lifestyle, such as reducing alcohol consumption and losing weight.

The American Liver Foundation reports that damage from the inflammation and fibrosis stages of liver failure may be reversible and healed over time (if properly identified and treated). The liver damage caused by cirrhosis, while often not reversible, can at least be slowed or stopped.



Lifestyle Changes and Diet


There are many foods that can help people with cirrhosis. Some of these foods include fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains.

It is important for people with cirrhosis to talk to a doctor before making any changes to their diet.


Top 5 Foods for Cirrhosis


  1. Kale

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like potassium and magnesium. All these nutrients are important for supporting liver health.

  1. Potatoes

Potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, which can help to improve digestion and reduce the risk of constipation. They are also a good source of potassium, an important mineral for the health of the liver. Potatoes can help to improve cirrhosis by helping to keep the liver healthy and functioning properly.

  1. Plantains

The plantain is a crop from the genus Musa. Its fruits are edible and are generally used for cooking. This is different from the soft and sweet banana (which is often called dessert banana). … Dessert bananas are often eaten raw; plantains are usually cooked or otherwise processed before they are eaten.  Plantains are a great food to eat if you have cirrhosis. They are high in potassium and magnesium, which can help to improve liver function. Plantains are also a good source of antioxidants, which can help to protect the liver from damage.

2.  Avocados

Avocados are a great food to eat if you have cirrhosis. They are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help improve your liver function. Avocados are also a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and E, all of which can be beneficial for people with cirrhosis. Try adding avocado to your diet in place of other unhealthy fats.

1.  Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants, which can help protect the liver from damage. They are also a good source of vitamin C, which can help improve liver function. Additionally, tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can help protect the liver from damage.



How Does Cirrhosis Affect the Body and the Mind?


Cirrhosis is a debilitating, life-threatening condition that affects millions of people around the world.
In the early stages of cirrhosis, patients may not experience any symptoms.

However, as the disease progresses, patients may experience a wide range of symptoms that can affect their body and mind.

Although cirrhosis of the liver has a devastating effect on the liver, which is the main organ that it affects directly, there are potentially a lot of other side effects of cirrhosis. Liver disease is also associated with depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.

We can’t forget that cirrhosis is also linked to fatigue, insomnia and cognitive disorders such as dementia, too.

Alternative Therapies for Cirrhosis


Alternative therapies include treatments that are not typically used in conventional medicine, such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, and meditation.

Some people may find that a specific therapy works better for them than others.

The most important part is to find a therapy that you can stick to and that is safe for you. Some people may find that dietary changes help them manage their liver cirrhosis.

Others may find that supplements help them feel better. Some people may find that they need to see a therapist to help them deal with the emotions that come with having liver cirrhosis.

Whatever therapy you decide to try, it is important to talk to your doctor about it.




The fact that alcohol is harmful to one’s body is not news. But the severity of the effects can still be shocking to some, particularly when these effects are not brought on right away, but rather when they catch up with you decades later.

If you have cirrhosis, it is important that you are aware of what measures and treatments are available to help you manage your illness.

In conclusion, it’s important to stay positive and prevent cirrhosis from developing. Regardless of your diet, it’s good to be aware of what you’re eating. Anything that encourages you to make better nutritional choices is worth considering.

Contact Dr. Deetlefs today to book your appointment online or call us on 021-5518678.


The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

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© Dr. Eduan Deetlefs, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Cape Town

Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.