Cirrhosis Treatment in Fort Myers, FL
What Is Cirrhosis of the Liver?
Cirrhosis is a chronic liver disease characterized by the replacement of healthy liver cells with scar tissue (fibrosis). Damage to liver cells occurs over an extended period of time, typically over the course of many years, and is related to other liver diseases.
Scar tissue development in cirrhosis can contribute to liver failure as the scar tissue obstructs the ability of the blood to travel through the large vein—called the portal vein—that goes directly into the liver. Failure of blood to circulate properly to the liver can also affect surrounding organs such as the spleen.
Conventional treatment of cirrhosis is aimed primarily at managing its complications, such as utilizing drugs that decrease ammonia levels and addressing chronic liver diseases that contribute to cirrhosis. Early diagnosis and treatment are imperative to help prevent permanent liver damage.
To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Fort Myers who specializes in cirrhosis treatment, call (239) 425-2900 or contact Dr. Doreen DeStefano online.
Cirrhosis of the liver develops as a result of other chronic liver conditions that trigger inflammation and toxicity of the organ. Some of major contributors to cirrhosis of the liver include:
- Alcoholism: Excessive drinking over an extended time period causes fatty deposits and inflammation of the liver
- Viral Hepatitis: Hepatitis C can be contracted through sexual intercourse or exposure to infected blood (viral hepatitis can also be caused by hepatitis B or D)
- Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Fat accumulates in the liver often due to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream
- Bile Duct Disease: Bile backs up into the liver instead of flowing to the small intestine and causes inflammation
Cirrhosis symptoms vary according to the cause and severity of the disease. In its early stages, no symptoms may be present. However, over time, symptoms of cirrhosis include:
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Muscle wasting
- Muscle cramps
With time, cirrhosis can also lead to several health complications, including:
Diagnosis of Cirrhosis
Early detection of cirrhosis is important to prevent permanent damage. Since early liver cirrhosis stages can be asymptomatic, regular check-ups with your healthcare provider are vital.
Your healthcare provider may use the following tests to diagnose cirrhosis:
- Blood tests to check for elevated bilirubin levels or elevated liver enzymes.
- Magnetic resonance elastography to help determine if hardening of the liver is present
- Imaging tests such as MRI, ultrasound or CT scans
- Biopsy of the liver to help determine the extent of liver damage
Regular screening for liver cancer is important for advanced stages of liver cirrhosis.
Liver Cirrhosis Treatment
Minimizing damage to the liver is vital in cirrhosis, particularly when it comes to addressing the underlying cause. Addressing specific factors through dietary, lifestyle and medical intervention may include:
- Treatment for hepatitis: If hepatitis is present, medications are available to treat the viruses that cause hepatitis, preventing further damage to liver cells.
- Eliminate the use of alcohol: Any amount of alcohol is toxic to the liver in patients with cirrhosis.
- Intervention for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Weight loss in obese patients and controlling diabetes is imperative to preventing the progression of cirrhosis caused by fatty liver disease. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider or a nutritionist to discuss dietary intervention strategies for weight loss and diabetes.
- Medications: Medications that decrease tissue ammonia levels such as lactulose or neomycin are often used to treat hepatic encephalopathy (neuropsychiatric abnormalities observed in patients with liver disease). Blood pressure medications may be prescribed to control pressure to liver veins and to prevent bleeding. Antibiotics may also be used to eliminate the risk of infections.
As part of liver cirrhosis treatment, your healthcare provider may recommend complementary treatments designed to manage the metabolic abnormalities and complications of the disease.
Natural treatment strategies for the management of cirrhosis include:
- Supplementing with probiotics: Probiotics (good bacteria) have been shown to decrease elevated levels of ammonia and other protein metabolites that impair liver function.
- Supplementing with L-Carnitine: Carnitine is an amino acid plays a role in urea synthesis and may help lower levels of ammonia in cirrhosis.
- Supplementing with a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to support nutritional status: Individuals with cirrhosis have been shown to have malnutrition and deficiencies in minerals such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins E, A and D and B complex.
- Consume milk thistle extract: Milk thistle is a botanical shown to support liver health by increasing levels of the major antioxidant glutathione.
- Consume a health-promoting cirrhosis diet with plenty of fresh greens and vegetables: Limit the consumption of unhealthy fats and cholesterol, refined, processed foods and foods high in sugar. Consuming a low-sodium diet can also help prevent the build-up of fluid in the liver.
Although there is no cure for cirrhosis, management of the underlying conditions can slow the progression of cirrhosis and prevent further damage to the liver. Treating hepatitis, eliminating the use of alcohol, weight loss programs for individuals that are overweight, and addressing metabolic conditions that contribute to fatty liver disease are promising strategies for slowing the progression of this disease.
For more information regarding the different types of cirrhosis and your cirrhosis of liver treatment options, call (239) 425-2900 or contact Dr. Doreen DeStefano online.
Root Causes Holistic Health & Medicine
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Fort Myers, FL 33907
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