Cirrhosis management – How can patients take care of their health?
Cirrhosis has always been the kind of liver disease that troubles both doctors and patients because of its non-reversible nature. And because of that, patients often feel despair or hopeless due to the assumption that not much could be done. But is it really the case?
What is cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis refers to the condition where the liver forms excessive lumpy and hard scar tissue to replace the original normal, healthy tissue. It usually happens over a period of time. As more and more scar tissue forms, the liver will lose its function gradually. In the past, cirrhosis was regarded as a disease that cannot be cured. However, recent studies have confirmed that hepatic fibrosis reversal is a reality in clinical settings. The studies also acknowledged anti-fibrotic strategies as one of the methods to treating cirrhosis.
While cirrhosis appears to be a difficult disease to fight against, patients can still manage cirrhosis by taking care of their liver health, with the aim of reversing hepatic fibrosis, and hence improving the quality of life.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Stop alcohol intake: Patients should stop any form of alcohol intake as alcohol can accelerate the progression rate of cirrhosis.
- Have a well-balanced diet: Adequate nutrients of all kinds are necessary to maintain a healthy body.
- Zinc supplements: As patients of cirrhosis often have zinc deficiency, zinc supplements could be helpful in this aspect.
- Regular exercise: Regular physical activities provide immediate and long-term health benefits and it also helps prevent muscle wasting.
Since one of the many functions of the liver is to metabolise drugs in the blood for the body to use, it is of crucial importance that patients of cirrhosis should avoid drugs that may not be properly metabolised with a non-functioning liver. If extra care is not put in this aspect, liver failure or drug-induced liver disease might occur.
Specific treatments for the underlying cause of cirrhosis
Since there are different liver diseases that could progress to cirrhosis, it is important for patients to check with their doctors with consideration of getting specific treatments for their causes of cirrhosis.
Anti-fibrotic therapies as a treatment for cirrhosis
Although cirrhosis has long been described as a disease that cannot be treated, recent clinical studies suggest that regression of liver fibrosis could occur with the right treatment.
Research has shown that anti-fibrotic therapies are useful in terms of slowing down or even reversing hepatic fibrosis, leading to possible improvement in cirrhosis. In a clinical study that focused on the possibility of hepatic fibrosis reversal, patients of cirrhosis who were provided with natural herbal supplements that have anti-fibrotic properties showed a significant decrease in their transaminases level, signifying a drop in liver damage degree. A year after the study, liver biopsy was performed on the same group of patients and they all showed a significant improvement in fibrosis and inflammation levels.
According to another study presented at 2nd Humboldt Kolleg in conjunction with International Conference on Natural Sciences, the active ingredients in herbal medicines have been identified to help reduce the level of hepatic fibrosis, contributing to an improvement of portal hypertension, which is a fatal complication of liver cirrhosis.
With supplements that have anti-fibrotic properties readily available on the market, patients of cirrhosis should never lose hope in managing their health. By gradually improving the liver function, reversing cirrhosis may not be a task too difficult.
- WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/cirrhosis-liver#1 (Access Date: 2018-05-09)
- Patient.info, https://patient.info/doctor/cirrhosis-pro, (Access Date: 2018-05-09)
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5339475/, (Access Date: 2018-05-09)
- Kyotsujigyo, https://www.kyotsujigyo.net/document/yhk/13_clincial.pdf, (Access Date: 2018-05-09)
- Science Direct, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187661961500039X (Access Date: 2018-05-09)
- * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.