What is liver cirrhosis (liver scarring)?

Liver cirrhosis refers to a shrunken, scarred and hardened liver with potential for deterioration of liver function. It results from chronic (long-term) damage to the liver from various causes, leading to progressive scarring of the liver over years.

Liver cirrhosis is a serious condition because once the liver becomes cirrhotic, the damage to the liver is irreversible. This leads to progressive liver failure, complications of cirrhosis, liver cancer and eventual death.

“Not everyone who drinks large amounts of alcohol will get liver cirrhosis. However, those who have hepatitis C are more likely to suffer liver damage from alcohol,” explains Clinical Assistant ProfessorTan Hiang Keat, Senior Consultant, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Risk factors for liver cirrhosis (liver scarring)

You may be at risk of liver cirrhosis if you have one of the following conditions:

  • Chronic hepatitis B
  • Chronic hepatitis C
  • Chronic excessive alcohol intake
  • Fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis)
  • Autoimmune liver disease (autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis or primary sclerosing cholangitis)
  • Wilson disease, hemochromatosis and other rare inherited liver diseases

Is liver cirrhosis (liver scarring) preventable?

You can’t undo the damage from cirrhosis although early treatment can slow down further damage. Here are some ways to minimise further liver cirrhosis (liver scarring):

  1. A balanced diet provides everything you need to keep your overall wellbeing in check
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. The tolerance for alcohol varies greatly from person to person, so know your limits and do not exceed them as much as possible. For men, it’s 14 units a week and in women, seven units a week
    NOTE: One unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink as well as its alcohol strength. For e.g. a glass (250ml) of wine has 3 units, a standard can (440ml) of beer has 2 units and a shot (25ml) of spirits carries 1 unit.
  4. Reduce your risk of Hepatitis B and C
  5. Do not mix alcohol and drugs

See page 2 for the symptoms of liver cirrhosis (liver scarring) and how it is diagnosed.

See page 3 to learn about the treatment for liver cirrhosis (liver scarring)

Ref: Q15

Check out other articles on liver health:

How the Liver Works

10 Tips for a Healthy Liver

Fatty Liver: What You Need to Know

How to Reverse Fatty Liver Disease

Liver Inflammation: What Causes It and How to Prevent

Diabetes and Liver Disease: What is the Link

Liver Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment