Liver disease such as cirrhosis can be a disabling condition

Our bodies are truly amazing, but it often isn’t until something goes wrong that many in Knoxville fully appreciate it. Moreover, some diseases stay hidden, only manifesting themselves after months or even years of damage. One such disease is liver disease, in particular, cirrhosis of the liver.

The role of the liver is to detoxify harmful substances, cleanse the blood and create nutrients essential to survival. When a person’s liver is harmed, it will repair itself. However, scar tissue will be formed in repairing process. The more scar tissue there is, the harder it is for the liver to carry out its roles. When a person has cirrhosis, their liver has become scarred due to a variety of health conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, hepatitis, certain infections, alcoholism and many other illnesses. Cirrhosis is a late stage condition of such diseases, and any damage caused by it may be permanent.

Liver damage may go unnoticed until the damage to the liver is quite widespread. Some symptoms include feeling fatigued, jaundice, bruising or bleeding easily, feeling itchy, feeling nauseous or simply not hungry, swollen legs and the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms include losing weight, being confused or slurring your speech, seeing spider-like blood vessels on your skin and having the palms of the hand red-colored.

Cirrhosis can cause a number of complications, such as high blood pressure, swollen legs and abdomen, bleeding, an enlarged spleen, infection, a buildup of brain toxins, malnutrition, jaundice, bone disease, an increase in the risk that the person could develop cancer of the liver and ultimately liver failure.

While cirrhosis of the liver cannot be undone, there are treatments that can slow the development of the disease and to address the symptoms of the disease. However, sometimes a person must be hospitalized if their cirrhosis is severe enough. While sometimes medication may help, in other cases surgery or even a liver transplant may be needed.

As this shows, cirrhosis of the liver is serious enough, but it also may be accompanied by a number of other disabling health issues. Should a person’s liver disease become disabling, it may become necessary to pursue Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration recognizes that liver disease can be disabling, and includes chronic liver disease as a digestive system disorder as a disabling condition if all requirements are met.

Source: Mayo Clinic, “Cirrhosis,” Accessed Nov. 20, 2016