What is the outlook for those with cirrhosis?
Overall state of health is greatly dependent on the underlying causes of cirrhosis and how successful treatment measures are to halt further liver damage. How early cirrhosis is determined is also a fundamental factor in slowing down the progression of the condition.
There is no cure for liver cirrhosis, and a transplant remains the most effective treatment (when successful) for the best possible quality of life once damage to the organ occurs. In many countries, donated livers are relatively limited, meaning that a small percentage of individuals may be able to receive a transplant procedure and others may need to wait months or years in some cases to receive a viable organ (if ever). This makes current treatment measures to reduce disease progression absolutely vital.
When detected early enough, effectively implemented treatment and necessary lifestyle changes (slowing down disease progression) can give a person with a cirrhotic liver a reasonably good quality of life for several years. Transplant survival rates have significantly increased with advancements in surgical procedure techniques and medications, with at least 80% of those receiving a donated liver surviving 5 years and more. The more advanced cirrhosis damage becomes, the more difficult and complex a person’s condition is to treat.
Extensive damage and frequent complications have a poorer outlook and can shorten a person’s lifespan considerably. Unfortunately, there is no way to totally prevent an advanced state of cirrhosis (a person may still lose liver function despite treatment or the prevention of serious complications), but further damage can be slowed down considerably and reduced.
Can cirrhosis be prevented?
The most effective way to avoid damaging the liver is to take preventative measures to avoid the underlying causes of cirrhosis. Infections with hepatitis B or C can be avoided by practicing safe sex (i.e. protected sex), getting the necessary vaccinations, not engaging in drug use involving the sharing of needles or getting tattoos and body piercings with non-sterilised tools.
Eating a balanced diet (plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and limited aggravators such as caffeine and fatty foodstuffs), getting in enough exercise (and rest), maintaining a healthy weight range (the more body fat a person has, the more strain on the liver), avoiding tobacco use, and limiting alcohol consumption (moderation) can also reduce strain on the liver and all of its essential functions.