Causes of Cirrhosis
There are many reasons can lead to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is triggered by scar tissue that forms in your liver in response to damage that occurs repeatedly over many years. The two most typical causes of cirrhosis are heavy alcohol consumption and chronic hepatitis C. Many people have more than one cause of cirrhosis.
Alcohol-related liver disease
Most of the people who consume alcohol do not suffer damage to the liver. But heavy alcohol use over several years can lead to chronic injury to the liver. The amount of alcohol it takes to ruin the liver varies greatly from person to person. For women, consuming two to three drinks-including beer and wine-per day and for men, three to four drinks per day, can lead to liver damage and cirrhosis. Previously, alcohol-related cirrhosis led to more deaths than cirrhosis due to any other cause. Deaths triggered by obesity-related cirrhosis are increasing.
Chronic hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus is a liver infection that is spread by contact with an infected person’s blood. Chronic hepatitis C causes inflammation and damage to the liver over time that can result in cirrhosis.
Chronic hepatitis B and D. The hepatitis B virus is a liver infection that is spread by contact with an infected person’s blood, semen, or other body fluid. Hepatitis B, like hepatitis C, causes liver inflammation and injury that can lead to cirrhosis. The hepatitis B vaccine is given to all infants and many adults to prevent the virus. Hepatitis D is another virus that infects the liver and can result in cirrhosis, but it occurs only in people who already have hepatitis B.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In NAFLD, fat develops in the liver and eventually causes cirrhosis. This increasingly common liver disease is connected with obesity, diabetes, protein malnutrition, coronary artery disease, and corticosteroid medications.
This form of hepatitis is triggered by the body’s immune system attacking liver cells and causing inflammation, damage, and eventually cirrhosis. Researchers believe genetic factors may make some people more prone to autoimmune diseases. About 70 percent of those with autoimmune hepatitis are female.
Diseases that damage or destroy bile ducts. Several different diseases can damage or destroy the ducts that carry bile from the liver, causing bile to back up in the liver and leading to cirrhosis. In adults, the most common condition in this category is primary biliary cirrhosis, a disease in which the bile ducts become inflamed and damaged and, ultimately, disappear. Secondary biliary cirrhosis can happen if the ducts are mistakenly tied off or injured during gallbladder surgery. Primary sclerosing cholangitis is another condition that causes damage and scarring of bile ducts. In infants, damaged bile ducts are commonly caused by Alagille syndrome or biliary atresia, conditions in which the ducts are absent or injured.
Cystic fibrosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, hemochromatosis, Wilson disease, galactosemia, and glycogen storage diseases are inherited diseases that interfere with how the liver produces, processes, and stores enzymes, proteins, metals, and other substances the body needs to function properly. Cirrhosis can result from these conditions.
Drugs, toxins, and infections. Other causes of cirrhosis consist of drug reactions, prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals, parasitic infections, and repeated bouts of heart failure with liver congestion.