Living with cirrhosis is quite complex to deal with. It is a condition that varies and fluctuates. Two people with cirrhosis may have different experiences from each other. More so, even the experiences of the same person due to liver problems may be different each day. What could be the reason for this? Well, the liver is an organ with many functions that cut across different body systems. As such, liver disease would have an impact on almost all the parts of your body. It can even mess with your brain functions and change your feelings, behavior, and personality. That’s how far its effects can reach.
If you have liver cirrhosis, you will have to manage any symptoms that show up, as well as any complications too. Meanwhile, since you would most likely not be on hospital admission all of the time, you would have to recognize these symptoms for yourself as they emerge. Some of these complications and symptoms are indeed difficult to manage and live with. Take, for example, ascites and all of its symptoms, encephalopathy, and all of its symptoms, varices and all of its symptoms, and many more complications too numerous to mention. What are the experiences of people living with cirrhosis? How does it feel like, living with this condition? What should you expect if you have cirrhosis? These are the things we talk about in this article.
Living With Cirrhosis – What You Must Know
Just like we said before, you are not likely to be on hospital admission all the time if you have cirrhosis. You may be in and out of the hospital very often depending on many factors. But most of the things you would do to manage the condition is self-care.
Your healthcare provider will guide you properly on what to do and probably give you some meds too. But then, you must take personal responsibility for your health and commit to following through with the doctor’s recommendations and prescriptions.
It is not so easy to cope with all the symptoms. Some symptoms may sometimes just show up out of nowhere. But then, you can improve your life situation by making sure to carry your doctor along and following his or her instructions to the letter.
One thing that comes with liver cirrhosis is being vulnerable. People with cirrhosis are quite vulnerable to certain health issues. Cirrhosis is a risk factor for liver failure, liver cancer, and a few other life-threatening conditions.
More so, people with cirrhosis are also vulnerable to emotional and psychological disturbances. If you have cirrhosis, it may impact your quality of living negatively.
You may have to depend on people for certain things you could do by yourself before. You may also have to watch your diet closely and make changes in your lifestyle. These can, in turn, lead to mental health issues such as depression if you do not get the right kind of support.
Cirrhosis may also affect how you reflect on life. First, there is a feeling of sadness when you hear that you have the condition. With time, you begin to gradually accept your “fate”.
Then, questions begin to arise on life expectancy. You wonder how long you’re going to live. All of these factors would affect how you reflect on life. And as your health status changes over time and you get more information about the disease, your outlook on life may gradually change too.
There is, however, no need to despair and feel hopeless if you have liver cirrhosis. In most cases, you can still live a joyful life.
Even if your liver eventually fails, you can get a liver transplant. Almost 80 percent of those who get liver transplant live for more than 5 years afterward. That’s a ray of hope.
The Different Stages and What You May Experience
Cirrhosis is generally in 4 stages. These stages tell us how serious and advanced the condition is. The disease usually progresses from stage 1 to stage 4. But this progression can be slowed down if you begin treatment on time.
At the end of the day, the outlook of cirrhosis depends on the stage it was when you began treatment. We will take a brief look at what happens during each of these 4 stages.
Stage 1 is a very mild form of cirrhosis. At this time, doctors may not even be able to detect that you have cirrhosis. It takes a very skilled expert to detect it.
The usual experience that comes with stage-1 liver cirrhosis is fatigue. There may be no other symptoms apart from this. You see why it is not so easy to detect?
But then, if you can detect cirrhosis at this stage, you can still reverse the damage and get your liver back in good condition. 99 percent of those with stage-1 liver cirrhosis would survive beyond one year.
By the time the disease enters stage 2, scar tissues would have increasingly built up in your liver. These scar tissues are now beginning to replace normal liver cells.
During this stage, there will be portal hypertension in your liver. This means that the blood pressure (BP) in your liver region would be elevated. This BP elevation makes it easier to detect and diagnose cirrhosis.
Stage-2 liver cirrhosis is partially reversible. 98 percent of those with stage-2 liver cirrhosis would survive beyond one year.
At stage 3, liver cirrhosis is already becoming serious and advanced. Fluid would accumulate in your abdominal cavity. This causes ascites.
You may have symptoms such as weight loss, confusion, fatigue, and yellowing skin. You may also experience breathing problems.
Stage-3 liver cirrhosis is no longer reversible. Those who only get to find out that they have cirrhosis at stage 3 have a 1-year survival rate of 80 percent.
Your doctor may even recommend a liver transplant at this stage. If you get a donor on time and your body does not outright reject the donor-liver, you have an 80 percent chance of living more than 5 years after the operation.
If Stage 3 is Already Bad, What’s The Deal with Stage 4?
Stage-4 liver cirrhosis is called end-stage cirrhosis. At this point, there is an immense build-up of scar tissues in your liver.
These scar tissues can cause rupture within your liver, which would, in turn, lead to internal bleeding. This is a life-threatening emergency. Only about 43 percent of people with stage-4 liver cirrhosis live up to a year.
Living with cirrhosis is easier if you detect the condition on time and follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter. It would also help to get emotional support from close friends and family.