Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body. It filters toxins from the body, and is responsible for breaking down fats and storing vitamins.\nDamage to your liver can be dangerous and can lead to cirrhosis. But what is cirrhosis, and how does cirrhosis affect the body? Read on for more information.\nUPMC has performed more liver transplants than any other transplant center in the nation. And through our UPMC Complex Care Connect\u2122 program, we extend our expertise to hospitals across the country. Find out more at the UPMC Complex Care Connect\u2122 website.\nWhat Is Cirrhosis?\nCirrhosis of the liver develops when healthy liver tissue is damaged and replaced with scar tissue, or fibrosis. This occurs due to increased pressure in the liver\u2019s portal vein, the vein that supplies blood from the stomach, small intestines, and spleen.\nWhen scar tissue replaces healthy tissue, your liver is unable to perform its normal functions.\nCirrhosis is caused by earlier forms of liver disease and damage resulting from any number of conditions. Hepatitis, which occurs when the body is infected by a virus, causes inflammation in the liver.\nHeavy alcohol use also can damage the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by a buildup of fat in liver cells, causing inflammation. Primary biliary cirrhosis occurs when the bile ducts become blocked and inflamed.\nAdditionally, autoimmune diseases like HIV and lupus and inherited diseases like cystic fibrosis, Wilson\u2019s disease, and hemochromatosis can increase your risk of developing cirrhosis.\nHow Does Cirrhosis Affect the Body?\nIn the early stages, symptoms of cirrhosis usually aren\u2019t noticeable. As the disease progresses, however, you may start to experience:\n\nLoss of appetite and loss of muscle mass\nFatigue\nSwelling of the abdomen or legs\nEasy bruising\nNausea\nJaundice (yellowing of the eyes, skin, and darkening of the urine)\nWeight loss\nAbdominal pain and swelling (ascites)\nSpider-like blood vessels\nKidney failure\nSevere itching\nLoss of brain function\n\nHow Is Cirrhosis Treated?\nWhile there\u2019s no cure for cirrhosis, medicines are available to help treat some of the underlying causes, including hepatitis C, and prevent further complications and damage.\nFor people suffering with cirrhosis, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help. That includes adopting habits such as:\n\nEating a balanced diet (one that is low in sodium)\nAvoiding the use of alcohol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs\nStaying in close contact with your doctor\n\nIt\u2019s also important to watch for any signs of bleeding, yellow color to the skin, confusion, fever, and abdominal swelling.\nLiver Transplant for Cirrhosis\nIn severe cases such as a chronic diagnosis, liver failure, or liver cancer, medicine-based treatments may not be useful. When the liver is damaged and can\u2019t function properly, a liver transplant may be your only treatment option.\nLiving-Donor Liver Transplant\nThe liver transplant waiting list grows longer every day, so it can be difficult for a patient to receive a liver from a deceased donor.\nHowever, because of the liver\u2019s unique ability to regenerate, living-donor liver transplants have become a life-saving solution for people on the liver waiting list. There are numerous benefits in undergoing this procedure:\n\nReduced or no wait time. The donor and recipient can schedule surgery at a time that\u2019s convenient for both.\nQuick recovery time. Because of new minimally invasive procedures, both the recipient and donor often return to their normal lifestyle within weeks to a few months following surgery.\nImproved long-term outcomes. The recipient can benefit from long-term outcomes and a quicker recovery time since the donor\u2019s liver is functioning up until the time of transplant.\n\nIf you\u2019re on the waiting list, time is of the essence. Talk to your loved ones today about living donation. Learn more about Living-Donor Liver Transplantation at UPMC.\nTalk to your loved ones today about living donation. Learn more about Living-Donor Liver Transplantation at UPMC.