Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs, and naturally produced toxins. It also slows the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver.
The liver weighs about 3 pounds and is the largest solid organ in the body. It performs many important functions, such as:
- Manufacturing blood proteins that aid in clotting, oxygen transport, and immune system function
- Storing excess nutrients and returning some of the nutrients to the bloodstream
- Manufacturing bile, a substance needed to help digest food
- Helping the body store sugar (glucose) in the form of glycogen
- Ridding the body of harmful substances in the bloodstream, including drugs and alcohol
- Breaking down saturated fat and producing cholesterol