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What Are the Common Causes of Liver Scarring?

A human liver.
Several types of liver disease, including cirrhosis.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 June 2014
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There are many conditions, behaviors, and substances capable of causing liver scarring, which is medically referred to as cirrhosis. Among them are the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, liver diseases, medications that harm the liver, and some viruses. In some cases, a person may even develop scarring because of his own immune system. For example, a person may have an autoimmune disease in which his immune system attacks his liver. Some types of chemicals and toxic metals cause scarring of the liver as well.

Often, liver scarring is the result of alcohol consumption. It may result when a person consumes large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis. For example, a person who consumes a few alcoholic beverages each day for 15 years may be more likely to develop scarring than a person who consumes alcohol less frequently. Interestingly, some people seem to be more susceptible to liver damage from alcohol than others.

A condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may also cause scarring of the liver. This condition develops when fat accumulates in the liver of people who do not abuse alcohol. Some people with the condition do not experience scarring, but in others, the fat accumulation causes liver inflammation and leads to scarring.

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A chronic form of a condition called hepatitis may also lead to liver scarring. An individual with chronic hepatitis B or C has a viral illness that remains a problem for years rather than going away, as an acute form of hepatitis would. There are various types of hepatitis, and a person with a non-chronic form, such as hepatitis A, is less likely to develop scarring. Hepatitis B, on the other hand, is often associated with scarring on the liver, and hepatitis C usually causes it. Scarring usually develops gradually when a patient has a chronic form of viral hepatitis.

Unfortunately, some cases of liver scarring develop because of a patient’s immune system dysfunction. In such a case, a person’s immune system attacks his own liver cells. When this occurs, a person is said to have an autoimmune condition. Such a condition may cause gradually worsening liver damage and scarring.

Sometimes medications and toxic chemicals are at fault when it comes to liver scarring. Some medications, for example, are known to cause liver damage while others may only cause scarring when unexpected reactions occur. Certain chemical toxins and pathogens may cause scarring of the liver as well.

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Discuss this Article

fify
Post 3

I think there are more causes of liver scarring than we realize and more people than we think suffer from it. For the most part though, liver scarring is a temporary thing because the liver can heal itself.

I had mild cirrhosis of the liver due to a medication I was taking but after I stopped the medication, my liver went back to normal in a couple of years.

donasmrs
Post 2
@fBoyle-- I have no idea about that but I saw on the news that consuming a lot of high fructose corn syrup has been linked to cirrhosis. The sad part is that corn syrup is in practically everything we consume so most of us are getting a lot of it.

There are people with liver cirrhosis in my immediate family and I feel like I have a genetic inclination for it, if that's possible. So I'm trying to cut out all foods with high fructose syrup in it. It's really difficult though; the hardest part has been cutting out soda.

I'm also avoiding alcohol and pain killers and hoping that this reduces my likelihood of developing cirrhosis when I'm older.

fBoyle
Post 1
I think chronic conditions like diabetes can lead to liver scarring too, right?

My mom doesn't have liver scarring, thankfully, but she does have fatty liver even though she doesn't drink alcohol. Her doctor told her that diabetes can be a cause of fatty liver and she does have diabetes. So my guess is that, diabetes can also be a cause of liver scarring but I have no idea if this has been proven yet.

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