The liver is an organ located in the upper right side of the abdomen and it is part of the digestive system. It performs several life-sustaining functions: it processes nutrients, produces proteins, stores sugar or glycogen, and it also controls the body's hormone levels, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and fluid retention. The liver filters unwanted substances and helps the body fight infection.
Cirrhosis is a chronic, progressive liver disease that prevents the liver from functioning normally. This disease is most often caused by chronic alcoholism, but can also be caused by hepatitis infection and other illnesses.
Damage to the liver from alcoholism or illness causes scar tissue to develop in the healthy liver tissue. Scar tissue prevents blood from flowing through the liver, preventing it from functioning properly. If the underlying cause of cirrhosis continues, for example, if a person with alcoholism continues to drink alcohol, cirrhosis will progress and liver function will diminish. Even if the cause of cirrhosis is corrected, the damage to the liver cannot be repaired or reversed.