Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is cirrhosis fatal?"
I am a 46-year-old male who's been diagnosed with cirrhosis. Can this be fatal or what?
Cirrhosis is scarring and shrinking of the liver that can be caused by many things. The most common cause of cirrhosis is alcohol use, but other things like certain medications and viral infections can also be causes. Cirrhosis is very often fatal, but this depends entirely on how much good liver tissue is left inside the scarred liver. If the cirrhosis is minor, then the most important this is to avoid further damage to the liver. You can do this by avoiding alcohol completely, avoiding harmful medications, and being vaccinated against viruses that infect the liver. If you do all of this, then there is a good chance you can lead a fairly normal life. On the other hand, if the cirrhosis is advanced, then the complications can be quite severe. People with advanced cirrhosis are at very high risk of dying due to various types of infections as well as severe bleeding from dilated veins in the esophagus. These cases must be very closely followed by their primary care doctor and their liver doctors to make sure these risks are minimized through regular checkups and taking several specialized medications. Close attention to good nutrition is also critical, as nutrition in cirrhosis patients is often quite poor.
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