Glossary >

Cirrhosis: assessment, symptoms, treatment, medication

Cirrhosis: assessment, symptoms, treatment, medication

Cirrhosis is a serious liver disease that can be caused by a variety of factors, including hepatitis, alcohol consumption, and other conditions. It is characterized by the gradual replacement of healthy liver tissue with scar tissue, which can lead to various complications.

Assessment: The assessment of cirrhosis is typically done through a physical exam, lab tests, and imaging studies. During a physical exam, the doctor will look for signs of an enlarged liver and other symptoms associated with cirrhosis, such as jaundice, spider angiomas, and ascites. Lab tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), liver function tests (LFTs), and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels, can help detect liver damage and cirrhosis. Imaging studies, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, can be used to assess the extent of liver damage.

Symptoms: The symptoms of cirrhosis vary depending on the severity of the disease. Early symptoms may include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and abdominal pain. As the disease progresses, other symptoms may develop, such as jaundice, itching, confusion, spider angiomas, ascites, and decreased urination.

Treatment: The treatment of cirrhosis depends on the underlying cause. If the cause is related to alcohol consumption, it is important to stop drinking and seek help for alcohol addiction. If the cause is related to viral hepatitis, medications may be used to fight the virus. If the cirrhosis is caused by another condition, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and exercise, may be recommended.

Medication: The medications used to treat cirrhosis depend on the underlying cause. For viral hepatitis, medications such as interferon and ribavirin may be used. For alcohol-related cirrhosis, medications such as disulfiram and acamprosate may be used to help reduce alcohol cravings. Other medications, such as diuretics and steroids, may be used to reduce ascites and relieve other symptoms.

CPR AED and First Aid Certification. Get certified Now with the latest AHA guidelines.
Takes less than 20 minutes. learn more


  • American Liver Foundation. (2020). Cirrhosis. Retrieved from
  • Mayo Clinic. (2020). Cirrhosis. Retrieved from
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2020). Cirrhosis. Retrieved from