Cirrhosis of the Liver

Very rarely do I offer my opinion on diet plans but this liver cleansing diet worked great for me.

The liver is a large organ, weighing about 1,500 grams or 3 lbs. Most of it is located behind the ribs in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity. It is made up of numerous small units called lobules, each just large enough to be visible with the naked eye and all similar in size, shape and function. Each lobule has somewhat the shape of a thimble. It is composed of liver cells and vessels.

The functions of the liver are numerous and varied. However, with so much work, the liver especially when left unattended or unmanaged can bring about different diseases. The complications of liver diseases, just like its functions, are numerous and varied, too. In many instances, their ultimate effects are incapacitating or lethal; their beginning is threatening, and their treatment is infamously difficult.

One of the most threatening liver problems is the cirrhosis of the liver. This pertains to the scarring of the liver, which takes place after the normal liver cells have been damaged.

Three types are, in general, considered and taken into account. The first one is the postnecrotic cirrhosis in which broad bands of scar tissue appear as a late result of a previous viral hepatitis or toxic agents.

The next type is the Laennec’s portal cirrhosis or nutritional cirrhosis. With this type, the scar tissue characteristically surrounds the portal areas. This is most commonly due to chronic alcoholism, with 90% of patients who have been diagnosed with this particular problem have been reported as alcoholic.

The last type is the Biliary cirrhosis in which there is pericholangitic perilobular scarring. This type is usually the result of chronic biliary obstruction and infection (cholangitis) and is much rarer than nutritional cirrhosis and postnecrotic cirrhosis.

The difference among the three types is largely one for the pathologist. Laennec’s cirrhosis is a disease characterized by episodes of necrosis involving the liver cells, sometimes occurring repeatedly throughout the course of the disease. The destroyed liver cells are replaced by scar tissue, the amount of which in time may exceed that of the functioning liver tissue. The disease usually has a particularly insidious onset and a very protracted course, occasionally proceeding over a period of 30 or more years.

In the early stages of cirrhosis of the liver, the liver is apt to be large, its cells loaded with fat as the replacing scar tissue contracts, it becomes small. Also, its surface often becomes rough because the scar tissue within it is disposed in coarse bundles, which by contracting pull in the capsule at certain points and causes the islands of residual normal tissue and of new regenerating liver tissue to protect in little lumps. The late symptoms are due partly to chronic failure of liver function and partly to obstruction of the portal circulation.

Patients suffering from cirrhosis of the liver require careful attention of the nurse who can make sound judgments and initiate nursing action.

1. Weight and fluid intake and output volumes must be measured and recorded daily.
2. Position in bed should be adjusted for maximal respiratory efficiency, which is especially important if ascites is marked.
3. Skin care must be observed meticulously because of the presence of subcutaneous edema and the relative immobility of the patient.

Boiled down, the success and treatment of cirrhosis of the liver depends upon convincing the patient of his need to adhere willingly and wholeheartedly to the therapeutic plan. This includes rest, a sensible way of life, an adequate well-balanced diet and the elimination of alcohol.

Recovery is neither rapid nor easy; there are frequent setbacks and apparent lack of improvement. But with understanding and support, people surrounding the patient can play a significant role in offering encouragement to the patient.

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