Please describe the process of cirrhosis, how it impairs the liver’s ability to function and is this a reparable or reversible condition?
Dr. Koziara: Cirrhosis (severe liver scarring) can be caused by excess alcohol, environmental toxins, viruses (hepatitis B and C), autoimmune conditions and some hereditary diseases. Some prescription medications can be harmful. Cirrhosis from alcohol occurs only after initial development of fatty changes, followed by alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation). It may take 20 years or more for cirrhosis to develop in persons who drink alcohol excessively. Fatty changes develop first. If one ceases to drink, the fatty liver changes frequently resolve. Continued excess alcohol will often result in alcoholic hepatitis. Unfortunately, this stage is not typically reversible, and often leads to cirrhosis (also not reversible). The liver typically functions normally in the early stages of cirrhosis. Eventually the liver function deteriorates in many, leading to liver failure and death, unless one receives a liver transplant. A person should avoid use of acetaminophen during or right after moderate or