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Alcohol, infections, toxins and genetic disorders can cause liver damage, including inflammation, scarring and disease. If left untreated, liver disease develops into cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a chronic, life-threatening condition that prevents your liver from:

  • Clearing your body of toxins
  • Removing harmful substances from your blood
  • Making proteins
  • Regulating blood sugar
  • Processing food into energy and nutrients 

Cirrhosis: what you should know

  • Cirrhosis typically develops over many years, sometimes decades.
  • A common misconception is that alcohol abuse is the lone cause of cirrhosis. Here are some other causes of cirrhosis:
  • Some symptoms of cirrhosis include the following:
    • Bruising easily
    • Fatigue
    • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
    • Loss of appetite
    • Severe itching
    • Weakness
  • Early detection, intervention and drug therapy can slow the progression of cirrhosis and minimize liver damage.
  • Although rare, cirrhosis increases your risk for developing liver cancer.

How can I get help for cirrhosis?

Liver problems that lead to cirrhosis can easily go undetected for years. Typically, routine blood work reveals elevated liver function tests. If you have elevated liver enzyme tests, do not ignore it — even if you do not have any other symptoms.

Your primary care doctor at Rush will refer you to a hepatologist (liver specialist) at Rush who specializes in diagnosing and treating liver problems. 

Care for cirrhosis at Rush

There is no cure for cirrhosis. Rather, the goal of cirrhosis treatment is to prevent further liver damage and reduce complications. Some possible treatments include the following:

  • Medications (to manage causes and symptoms of cirrhosis)
  • Lifestyle modifications (e.g., exercising regularly, losing weight)
  • Diet improvements (e.g., limiting salt intake, stop drinking alcohol)
  • Liver transplant if your liver is too damaged to function

Why choose Rush for cirrhosis care

  • Liver specialists in the Section of Hepatology at Rush are leaders in the field. They provide compassionate, comprehensive care for a wide range of liver conditions, including cirrhosis.
  • Hepatologists at Rush are experts in the most innovative diagnostic and treatment procedures, including upper endoscopy (EGD) and endoscopic ultrasound.
  • The liver transplant program at Rush is one of the most active programs of its kind in the U.S. The transplant team is committed to helping you through the physical, social and emotional challenges liver transplant. 

Departments and programs that treat this condition