By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Cirrhosis is a big medical word that certainly is well known or at least heard about often by the general public.

Cirrhosis is a permanent scarring of the liver. It is caused by drinking too much alcohol and by hepatitis. A fatty die, certain medications and even our own immune systems can damage the liver.

Cirrhosis can cause severe problems. The most obvious signs are the skin turning yellow and having swelling around the waist and the legs. When symptoms get worse people can throw up blood and later develop confusion and even lapse into a coma.

There are medications that can be used to control things and if symptoms are caught early enough in the process leading to cirrhosis it can be reversed.

Many people wonder why the liver is attacked. The problem is that the liver helps you digest food and helps remove toxins from the blood. It is a workhorse as far as our organs go but sometimes the stress can push it over the top.

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