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Cirrhosis is the general term used to pertain to the destruction in the normal structures of the liver lobules. It is defined with its four important features: destruction in liver parenchyma, separation of lobules by fibrous tissue, development of abnormal structured nodules, and abnormal vascular architecture. Furthermore, it is classified according to its causative agent otherwise the changes that happens in its morphology.

Alcoholic Cirrhosis known as Laennec’s cirrhosis is obviously caused by excessive alcohol use. Alcohol consumption, like how much and how often determines the degree of risk of an individual to having alcoholic liver disease.  That is people who drink alcohol in large amounts and more often may develop symptoms during their 30’s or 40’s. Long term alcoholic dependency may produce damage in the liver in three patterns:

a. Liver steatosis or fat accumulation in the liver (fatty liver)

b. Liver inflammation (hepatitis)

c. Severe liver scarring (cirrhosis)

The diagnosis of cirrhosis is made on the symptomatology and through the physical examination when the physician could palpate a liver which is small and firm with small lumps. Liver function tests, ultrasound or CT scan are utilized for the diagnosis and a liver biopsy could confirm the disease for any malignancy.

The clinical manifestations of this disease may involve:

Liver Steatosis

Hepatitis

Cirrhosis

  • Weak
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea
  • Malaise
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice
  • Itchiness of the skin
  • Liver enlargement
  • Asthenia
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Ascites
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Jaundice
  • Portal hypertension
  • Ascites
  • Spider Nevi
  • Pectoral alopecia
  • Gynecomastia
  • Palmar erythema
  • Altered hair distribution
  • Testicular atrophy
  • Bleeding tendencies
  • Esophageal varices
  • Splenomegaly
  • Distention of abdominal veins
  • Ascites
  • Bone marrow changes
  • Ankle edema
  • Asthenia
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Ascites
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Jaundice
  • Portal hypertension
  • Ascites
  • Spider Nevi
  • Pectoral alopecia
  • Gynecomastia
  • Palmar erythema
  • Altered hair distribution
  • Testicular atrophy
  • Bleeding tendencies
  • Esophageal varices
  • Splenomegaly
  • Distention of abdominal veins
  • Ascites
  • Bone marrow changes
  • Ankle edema

The complications of alcoholic cirrhosis may range from portal hypertension, infection, and liver failure to its more lethal results, for instance gastrointestinal bleeding, formation of hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatorenal syndrome, hepatic encelopathy, and coma.

Only abstinence and stopping from drinking alcohol is the most effective treatment for mild cases. It is due to the fact that the liver can still repair itself, though scarring will remain. The hepatotoxic property of alcohol can damage the functionability and structure of liver which could be progressive in character.

Sad to say, there is no cure for cirrhosis, thus treatment priorities are set to prevent its complications and management is more of symptomatic. The last resort for liver damage is liver transplantation which could only provide good prognosis if it is done during the earliest stage of disease and if the client is sincere in stopping from drinking alcohol – since scarring may still ensue and cirrhosis may become severe if the client do not adapt a healthier lifestyle.

Alcoholic Cirrhosis Pathophysiology & Schematic Diagram

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A dedicated registered nurse who loves to view life as a revolving conundrum with spectacles of light and an aspiring writer who wants to share her expertise and experience in the nursing profession. She had pursued continuing education specializing in Psychiatric Nursing but had her practice on MNCHN.