What is the Relationship Between Fibrosis and Cirrhosis?

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  • Written By: Sarah Kay Moll
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2018
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Fibrosis is a general term for a buildup of fibrous or scar tissue in an organ, typically as a reaction to chronic damage. "Cirrhosis" is a term for fibrosis that takes place in the liver, so there is a direct relationship between fibrosis and cirrhosis. The liver is an important organ that cleans toxins out of the blood and produces some nutrients for the body. Constant damage to the liver can cause fibrosis and cirrhosis.

Cystic fibrosis, a disorder of the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices, can cause cirrhosis. In cystic fibrosis, the mucus produced can also clog up the lungs, leading to difficulty breathing. The digestive juices that the body produces are sticky and thick, so instead of lubricating the digestive system, they can clog it up. Cystic fibrosis and cirrhosis are related because cystic fibrosis damages the liver.

Often, there are no symptoms for liver fibrosis and cirrhosis until the damage is severe. General symptoms of liver scarring include nausea and chronic fatigue. Liver disease might also cause a loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss, swelling in the legs and swelling or fluid accumulation in the abdomen. It can interfere with the blood as well, making the body bruise or bleed easily.


Liver scarring from fibrosis and cirrhosis is generally caused by years of damage to the liver. Over time, as the liver is damaged, it repairs itself, and this process forms scar tissue. If the liver is damaged often enough, the scar tissue builds up, and the larger it becomes, the more difficult it is for the liver to function correctly. In addition to cystic fibrosis, diseases such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C can damage the liver, as can chronic alcohol abuse.

Cirrhosis is a serious condition that carries the risk of complications such as high levels of toxins in the blood because the liver is unable to perform its function as a blood filter. Fibrosis and cirrhosis can also cause frequent infection and malnutrition, because the liver is unable to process nutrients. If untreated, severe cirrhosis can lead to liver failure.

If the liver scarring is caused by an underlying disease such as alcoholism or hepatitis, a physician might treat those disorders first to prevent further fibrosis and cirrhosis. The excess buildup of water in the body can be treated with medication, as can the high levels of blood toxins that result from liver disease. In the case of liver failure, a liver transplant might be necessary.



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