August 10, 2011

Primary Biliary Cirrhosis of the Liver

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Primary biliary cirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease that gradually destroys bile ducts present within the liver. Bile is very important to digest the fat as also it is required for the elimination of toxins, cholesterol and the dead red blood cells from the body. In case you are suffering from primary biliary cirrhosis, the bile ducts literally get destroyed, because of which harmful and toxic substances get collected in the liver. This could cause your liver tissue to get scarred irreversibly. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition, but you may be able to slow down the progress of the disease by going through primary biliary cirrhosis treatment as early as possible.

Primary biliary cirrhosis of the liver is quite a serious ailment on its own and as the liver damage worsens, you may develop a number of serious health problems, some of which include:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Cognitive impairment or problems with concentration and memory
  • Deficiency of vitamins
  • Enlarged veins
  • Limited scleroderma
  • Liver cancer
  • Osteoporosis or weakening of the bones
  • Portal hypertension or increase in pressure within the portal veins
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Thyroid disease

Though anyone can suffer from primary biliary cirrhosis of the liver, it is a lot more common in women, than in men. It has also been observed that this disease has the tendency to run in families. The common causes of a liver disease usually include excessive alcohol consumption, drug abuse, underlying medical conditions and so on. But the exact cause of primary biliary cirrhosis is still not clear. Health experts believe that it is an autoimmune disease, where your body begins to destroy its own cells, though environmental factors also play a part in it.

For several years now researchers have believed that primary biliary cirrhosis occurs due to infections caused by bacterial, viral and parasites. This could be because there have been many reports of women suffering from urinary tract infections caused by the Escherichia coli bacteria, prior to developing primary biliary cirrhosis. However, there are no conventional infections that have been persistently liked to the condition as yet.


Some people remain completely symptom-free for several years after developing primary biliary cirrhosis. However, it is more common for people to notice primary biliary cirrhosis symptoms right from the early stages of this condition. As the condition progresses, the symptoms become more severe. Given below are some of the early primary biliary cirrhosis symptoms:

  • Fatigue, weakness and extreme tiredness
  • Itchiness, mainly around the lower back, arms and legs
  • Dryness in the mouth and eyes

During the later stages, the destruction of the bile ducts usually leads to other signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Edema (swollen feet) and ascites (abdominal swelling)
  • Deposits of cholesterol
  • Digestive problems like steatorrhea and diarrhea


In case you are suffering from primary biliary cirrhosis, it is important for you to follow a healthy and highly nutritious diet, as your body needs all the nutrients that it can get. Therefore your primary biliary cirrhosis diet should include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereals, seeds, legumes and other healthy foods. Some of the other dietary recommendations that can help the patient include:

  • Following ad low-sodium diet
  • Increasing the intake of Vitamin D and calcium
  • Eliminating alcohol from your diet
  • Avoiding foods like raw shellfish or oysters

Primary Biliary Cirrhosis Prognosis

The levels of bilirubin in the body need to be taken into account for an accurate primary biliary cirrhosis prognosis. People suffering from this condition have a survival period of anywhere between a 1½ and 5 years. You could increase your life expectancy to 10 years, by going through a liver transplant. Speak to your doctor about the different treatment options that you have.