Is cirrhosis only caused by drug or alcohol abuse?
While drug and alcohol abuse are frequent causes for cirrhosis, they are not the only ones. Cirrhosis can also be caused by poisons, infections, heart disease, chronic hepatitis, genetic diseases, or even the patient’s own immune system (autoimmune cirrhosis).
What is a MELD score, and why is it important?
The model end-stage liver disease (MELD) score is a calculation made from the patient’s lab tests, including bilirubin (the substance that makes people turn yellow with liver disease), creatinine (a test of kidney function), and INR (a test of blood clotting ability). Your MELD score measures the severity of your liver disease. If it turns out that you need a liver transplant, the MELD score will play an important role in determining your position on the transplant waiting list.
An online MELD score calculator is available at the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network website.
Why does liver disease cause a yellowing of the skin (jaundice)?
Jaundice is caused by a buildup of bilirubin, an orange-yellow waste product that results from the breakdown of old red blood cells. Clearing the blood of bilirubin and other waste products is one of the liver’s main functions in the body. When the liver ceases to function properly, bilirubin can build up in the blood, producing a yellowish tint to the whites of the eyes and sometimes the skin.
I take acetaminophen or ibuprofen regularly—do I need to worry about drug-induced hepatitis or acute liver failure?
If you do not have an existing liver condition, there should be no reason for concern as long as you follow the recommended dosage directions. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure.
To find out more about the Methodist Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, call us at 713-441-8839 or 866-94-LIVER (866-945-4837) or send us an email.