What are the 4 Stages and Symptoms of Cirrhosis
If you are like me, you did not know diddley squat about the stages of cirrhosis when you were diagnosed. I understood what End Stage meant. The End is pretty easy to figure out. But how in the heck did I get to the end, or stage 4, or End Stage or whatever they called it? What happened before, during and after? If you have even read one of my blogs, you know that I have questions. There is no stopping until I get some answers.
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Cirrhosis is talked about in 4 stages. There are many ways that a doctor can tell what stage you are in with blood tests, MRI, FibroSURE scan, liver biopsy or other procedures.
Scarring in the liver is called fibrosis. When the liver is healing itself, it forms collagen bands. In a nutshell, collagen grows, connects, and wraps around the liver. Your poor liver does not consider what the scarring will eventually do, it just tries to heal itself.
Stage 1 of Cirrhosis is when your liver is actively inflamed and trying to heal.
What your liver is going through: Your liver is destroying itself in its attempt to heal. It may show signs of swelling. Small amounts of connective tissue may be found the portal vein area. Very little damage has been done, but your liver is definitely feeling some pain from the disease, alcohol, Hepatitis C Virus, or from whatever is attacking it.
What you are going through: This stage usually has no symptoms. You do not even have a clue that something is wrong. IDK how many times I have wished that Hepatitis C testing were done routinely.
Stage 2 Shows inflammation, but not a lot of damage.
What the liver is going through: There is a red alert going off telling the liver to work harder, so it puts out collagen to try and stop the swelling. It is still working really well. Most of the liver is healthy and normal, and the fibrous bands are mainly around the portal vein area. Your other organs are probably not even affected yet.
What you are going through: At this time, you may have slightly higher liver enzymes in your blood work. Most of us do NOT have any symptoms at this point.
Stage 3 is where the damage is really showing up more.
What the liver is going through: The fibrous bands send out runners, trying to grab onto or connect with who knows what trying to heal. You may hear the term “bridging” used. I picture it just like a bridge made of white collagen fibers bound up trying to help. The problem is that it does NOT help. The connections are not useful. They wrap around the arteries and veins. The blood supply begins to shut down. The arteries are pinched off . The liver feels the pressure. It’s job is to filter the blood. What? No blood coming through? Major problems occur and other organs are affected. Again, any healthy piece of liver that is left will keep doing it’s job. It compensates for the mess that is being made.
What you are going through: By this time you are feeling it. You may have itchy skin or eczema, hair loss, mental confusion, high and low blood sugar swings, food coma after heavy protein meal, and some swelling.
Stage 4 is considered the last stage.
What the liver is going through: By the time this happens, scar tissue has zig zagged all through the portal vein system. Even the healthier portions of the liver cannot compensate very well any more. The spleen, gall bladder, and gastrointestinal tract are all feeling the impact. Your liver has passed it’s pain onto the rest of your body. You may hear the term decompensation.
What you are going through: This is where it begins to fall apart for you. You many have mental confusion, brain fog, or hepatitic encephalopathy, yellowing of the eyes and skin called jaundice, reverse sleep pattern, swelling from fluid build-up called ascites, portal hypertension creating varices, and other symptoms.
Keep your chin up. I have lived through end stage liver disease and know that your diet, lifestyle, and medications can help.
End Stage Liver Disease – We know what it means. The liver is no longer able to carry out the functions that you need to keep going. You are going through a very hard time mentally, physically, and emotionally. I had that label the minute I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.
End Stage does not have to mean the end of your life. Saying those words to you is the whole purpose of why I blog. At one time, liver fibrosis reversal was not considered possible. At one time they thought the earth was flat.
We’re in there together as best friends. Stick with me. Practice lifestyle and diet changes. We’re going to figure this thing out together. xoxo Karen:)
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For more links to Cirrhosis and Hepatitis C articles click here.
What are the 4 stages and symptoms cirrhosis? Do you really believe that the liver can heal itself? Are you willing to make changes so that it can?
pics via nlm.nih.gov, livedesignonline.com, weightlossdetective.com