Stages of Liver Cirrhosis.

Stages of Liver Cirrhosis

Your liver seems to be taking center stage these days. All of the peeking, poking, and prodding done by your doctor is to help to see what stage of liver disease you have. Since hepatitis C causes damage to the liver, a lot of factors come into play. But no matter what the cause of liver disease, the outcome is the same: cirrhosis. It is usually thought of in 4 stages.

Stage 1

Outside: You will probably not even know you have any liver problems.

Inside: Your liver is working hard trying to heal inflammation from the hepatitis C virus. It is coping well and filtering out the toxins in your blood. It can still and regulate your sugar, protein, and fat stores.

What you can do: Eat healthy and avoid drinking alcohol. Try and get on treatment to get rid of the virus.

Stage 2

Inside: Your liver is beginning to take a hit and tries to heal itself by making collagen bands. You may feel fatigue throughout the day. Your muscles and joints may be achy.

Outside: You may notice that your nails are thick and have ridges. Your hair may become dry and brittle. Your skin could appear drier. Other than that, you can look perfectly healthy at this stage of liver disease.

What you can do: Continue to eat good clean food. Try and eat a variety of proteins like fish or chicken. Take only the medications prescribed by your doctor.

Stage 3

Inside: Your liver can’t keep up with all of it’s functions any more. As it tries to heal, fibrous bands are starting to clog the liver up. This puts an extra burden on other organs. Your body is feeling it.

Outside: Your body is feeling a loss of energy. At night, you may try to rest, but have trouble staying asleep. General feelings of depression can set in due to fatigue. There may be some water retention. Leg cramps can become a problem. You may experience hair loss.

What you can do: Continue to eat simple meals with a lot of good protein. Eating several small meals a day is easier on your liver. Do not rely on vitamins and caffeine for lack of energy. Eat well and rest.

Stage 4

Inside: The fibrosis has wrapped up your liver. It may even be blocking the big veins in your liver. This can cause other problems like ascites and portal hypertension. If you no longer have hepatitis C, the liver can continue to function with medication and a doctor’s care.

Outside: Your skin and eyes may be yellow. You may have swelling in your hands, feet, and tummy. It can be a time where your mind has confusion, especially after a meal with high protein. Your body needs a lot of support from medications and good nutrition.

What you can do: Eat the healthiest diet possible with low sodium and clean protein. Follow your doctor’s orders about what pills and vitamins are safe. Rest when you need to and conserve energy for big jobs.

After that, it is End Stage. Your doctor can run tests to tell you exactly what stage of liver cirrhosis you have. I made it to End Stage without even knowing I had the hepatitis C virus. Eating well and following my doctor’s advice helped me through the whole process. Pay close attention to your body’s signals and report any changes to your doctor. Go ahead and let your liver be center stage. That just means you can let the spotlight shine on it and give it all the healing power it needs with medication, good food, and a healthy lifestyle.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The HepatitisC.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (25)
  • highmaintenance
    2 months ago

    Thanks for your article on the different Stages of Cirrhosis. Had a liver transplant 9 years ago come November 12, 2009. The liver doctor wants to put me back on “The Waiting List”
    For another transplant, probably within two years time. Had Harvoni in a Gilliad Research at Baylor Dallas & got rid of the virus hep c somewhere between my 5th or 6th years. Hepc had scarred the “new” liver moderately, SOOO, My Liver is “Center Stage” at this point.

  • Karen Hoyt author
    2 months ago

    You are getting ready for a big anniversary! So thankful that you got rid of the virus. You are so smart to stay in touch with a transplant team. They can monitor you and make sure that you are ready.
    Will you have to have the testing every 3 months while you wait? For some people with moderate scarring, the tests are a pain in the rear. I wasn’t listed with end stage, but I got the tumor. I always stayed in contact with a Transplant hospital though.
    Congrats on making it this far! It gives us all hope!
    Xo Karen

  • leilei
    2 months ago

    Aloha, I have cleared hep c last year with stage 4 cirrhosis. Now I get checked every 6 months for cancer, last week I had a ultra sound and they found a solid lesion. High chance for HCC, going for MRI very scared as to what to expect.

  • highmaintenance
    2 months ago

    Karen has some great advice. Congratulations for Clearing the virus. Sounds like I’m right up there close to your conditions. We all hope that the lesion is easily treatable & you being cancer FREE. Please keep us posted on your journey clearing it up.
    Peace Out

  • Karen Hoyt author
    2 months ago

    You’re awesome. Yeah. Getting cleared is number one and then you can at least know that the injury can calm down.
    Thanks for reaching out and sending. Possitive thoughts to everyone!

  • Karen Hoyt author
    2 months ago

    Aloha,

    Congratulations on clearing the virus. Not every lesion is cancer. It could be a lot of things. Ask about your AFP or alpha feta protein number.
    I’ve been there. Let your doctor know that you’re ready to work with them to get rid of the lesion or cyst…. whatever it is.
    If it is indeed HCC, it’s scary. They will use TACE or other ablation to blast the tumor if possible. Sometimes – that is all that is needed.
    If those measures don’t work, you may be listed for a transplant.
    There are a lot of options for you, and I hope this brings you comfort.
    I may have written about it on this site. I’ve made it through liver cancer after they found spots on my liver. You can do this. Please stay in touch and keep us posted. xoxo

  • Karen Hoyt author
    2 months ago

    Thanks for keeping us updated. If if were HCC, I think that your medical team would be all over it. Please keep us posted. Xo Karen

  • leilei
    2 months ago

    Thank you for your reply, I will keep you posted on what my MRI results are.

  • Yurriseterengen-samanthaseterengen
    2 months ago

    How can I self medicate. I wanna help my liver till I get treatment. Anyone have sujestions

  • Karen Hoyt author
    2 months ago

    What kind of medication do you need? Pain management is not easy and usually involves your doctor.
    https://hepatitisc.net/living/cutting-pain-meds/ Maybe this can help. As far as reducing other meds, you can eat a healthy diet and reduce sodium. Allow your doctor to help you. I’ve also written about opiates, and how to get off of them.https://hepatitisc.net/living/opioid-addiction/
    Bravo for asking for help and getting informed. Let us know how it goes.. xo Karen

  • clburns
    4 months ago

    I have had this disease for 20 yrs.I just had 2 biopsy ,1 in my stomach, 1 in my irregular zigzag shape….intestinal I think. My spleen is the size of Mount Everest…. I have another ultrasound and blood work Monday. I don’t know what my numbers are anymore, 218,000 was the last I asked…I don’t sleep, exhausted always, stomach pains where it hurts to move or walk,dry eyes pains in my bones,etc.memory… Misery…but I’m OK. I have Jesus… Tired of all the red tape stuff.so tired after 20 yrs…so tired.I gained a little weight… Seeing a surgeon for hiatal hernia and scar tissue… Back to the other doctor for results from blood work, biopsy, ultrasound again…

  • Karen Hoyt author
    4 months ago

    Hep C has been wearing you down for a long time. I can still hear the strong voice inside of you that is full of faith.
    Hep c is not fair. But there can be a fair balance when treatment is offered that can give your liver a break. I hope you are offered medicine for your symptoms.
    I hope you can eat some clean whole food for nourishment. Keep pressing forward and make every day count.
    Thanks for stopping by. xo Karen

  • Flute45
    4 months ago

    I am currently having stomach pain sometimes around the belly button, sleeping problems occasionally, some fatigue. Can hep c make your ears ring too?

  • highmaintenance
    4 months ago

    I believe that hep c can effect your hearing as your body as a whole is affected by the virus. I had a transplant November 12th, 2009. The virus came back hard attacking my “new” 78 1/2 year old liver. By year 4 I had a lot of scaring & chirosious. In 2015 I was in research for the compound drug Harvoni for 24 weeks. Even though I’m SVR for 3 years now but still suffer the side affects from loss of liver function. I just eat liver healthy foods & try to stay active and focus on my family & friends. My faith in Jesus Christ is how I kept my head above water. My belly is always swollen from my spleen, umbilical hernia & water retention. Hope you can find out more & be able to get relief from tummy pain. Keep On Keeping On.

  • Karen Hoyt author
    4 months ago

    Hi!
    Stomach pain around the belly button can mean so many things. Probably due to gut health. A gastroenterologist can help you make a diagnosis.
    Are you having nausea? Have you had any tests done with endoscope?
    Sleeping problems and fatigue are just a few of the many crazy symptoms of Hep C. I hope you are able to rest and eat well to take care of your stomach pain.
    xo Karen

  • Kathy D
    5 months ago

    Hi Karen!
    In 2003 after liver biopsy I remember my PA telling me I was a Stage 4, Grade 1. Perhaps I didn’t “hear” her properly and what she meant was I had Cirrhosis at a Stage 1. Further studies (Dr Google) Stage 1 & 2 is compensated cirrhosis & stage 3 & 4 is decompensated cirrhosis?
    Stay cool!

  • Karen Hoyt author
    4 months ago

    Hi Kathy,
    Sorry I missed your comment til now. There are 4 stages and each are broken down into grades.
    You’re SO right. Stages 1 and 2 are when your body is able to compensate for the damage.
    Stages 3 and 4, it’s harder for your body and therefore you are decompensated.
    It can all vary. I was stage 4 grade 4 and into end stage before I was even diagnosed. So I walked around “compensated” but not diagnosed for over a year.
    How are you doing with stage 4?
    xo Karen

  • Karen Hoyt author
    6 months ago

    Oh honey,

    It’s an overwhelming time during this early stage of diagnosis. A lot of your depression may stem from just having the virus and feeling fatigue. You’ve had a lot of loss. Wow.

    First off, congratulations for seeking out answers. Research GOOD websites like this one where positive answers can lead to better health.
    I’m writing about the spleen now. It’s a back up for blood cells and platelets and if you have end stage liver disease, it’s where your platelets are hoarded.
    As for gerd, eating a liver loving diet with small, frequent meals is a good choice. Please let me know how the doctor visit goes. I’ve written about how to talk to the dr and what to expect. You’re going to get the answers you need. It may take time. You’ll get it all figured out.
    Keep in touch.
    xo Karen

  • donnathompson
    6 months ago

    Thank you for your support. Some of my family and friends think I’ve been using needles to shoot up drugs and they are staying away from me. They don’t understand that you can get it other ways. I’m 61 years old and have never done drugs. I feel depressed most of the time. I have had problems with depression since my son died of cancer on my birthday but this seems different. I do have a question. How will my other health problems effect the symptom of hep c . Thank you

  • donnathompson
    6 months ago

    I was told I had hepatitis c about 3 months ago I have an appointment to see the doctor on the 28th of this month. I’m scared and I have other health problems too. I had to have my spleen remove and I have gerd how will this affect my health. I already have most of the problem already.

  • Lauren Tucker moderator
    6 months ago

    Best of luck at your appointment donnathompson, I know the diagnosis process can be scary, you are not alone. Know you can reach out to us anytime. While the community may chime in with feedback and support, you can reach out to me directly if you need anything. Best, Lauren (HepatitisC.net Team)

  • Karen Hoyt author
    2 years ago

    You’re welcome. It feels like no one cares, but many people do. It sounds like your doctor and patient advocacy group cares. You certainly know how to get people in your corner! That’s a good thing.
    I read on the internet about the payment programs and restrictions. You are taking all the right steps. I truly hope that it works for you….
    Kudos for writing to the higher ups. They need to hear from their constituents. Since you have a rich spiritual life, that should help you to stay at peace until it all comes together. Keep the faith that it Will come together. You are important and your time on earth is valuable. xo Karen
    PS Let us know when you start treatment. 🙂

  • Irv775
    2 years ago

    Karen thank you for the tips, I feel like no one gives a —-
    I didn’t understand why my feet hurt so bad after driving 10 hours. I mean it feels like I walked for 10 hours. I have no meds. The specialists I go to have prescribed Ribavarin and Sofoldi but my old ins. Insisted on interferon also. My docs said no way! So if my new insurance turns me down then that’s it. I have nothing left! I wrote the pharmacietical companies and they won’t help, I used patient advocacy foundation and they weren’t able to convince my ins to drop the interferon, I wrote the Nevada ins commissioner and they agreed with the insurance company so I recently wrote the Governor because the military will pay for transgender changes now but this country won’t help a citizen who paid tax for almost 50 years! Who has NO criminal record! It disgusts me. I realize it’s my fault I have hep-C but if society is going to blow their horn on how far science has come for mankind, the effin help me! I’m asking them! It’s all BS lies, politics and money. I’m middle class not rich so I’m not important. At least I’m very spiritual and the ONLY reason I’m fighting off pre mature death is for my loved ones. I crossed over 42 years ago so I know where I’ll go. My family will suffer! My DOGS will suffer too. Who takes care of two big German Shepherds?

  • Irv775
    2 years ago

    I’m at stage 4 fibrosis and cirrhosis. The
    Insurance I had would NOT give me medication to save my frickin LIFE!!! It’s Obamacare and he wants to cull seniors. I’m 63. So I went back to work driving 12-13 hours a night. I come home with my liver swollen, I vomit sometimes, wake
    Up constantly when trying to sleep. I went back to work for insurance. I hope they will treat me or I may as well end it myself. Save the suffering. I have genotype 3 and 7.5 million virus Count. I’m very pissed off. I worked 49.5 years to be
    Told by the O’dumbass admin to go off and die. Guess if I was an illegal or a refugee? Or a convict I’d get saved. What a effed country America has become. I’m sorry but it wasn’t this way 20 years ago.

  • Karen Hoyt author
    2 years ago

    That’s a total shame. I know, because I’m in the same boat. I am still trying to keep insurance in order to pay for medication. Here are some tips: Try and eat as low sodium diet that your can. If you’re driving, your feet can swell and become painful. Also, grab some protein bars or some protein shakes to get your meal started. The food really will help you prepare for treatment.

    That’s my advice: prepare for treatment. Keep your body as strong as you possibly can… and keep taking the meds. If you get in trouble, there are pharmacy programs where you can get help with treatment and other medications. I had to use them for a few meds while I was waiting for treatment. I’m referring to my story only to encourage you that anything is possible. Don’t give up. Keep your wits about you and keep getting information. I’m glad you visited the site. This means you are learning more about how to live longer. I hope this helps. xo Karen

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