What Is the Life Expectancy of Liver Cirrhosis?

One well-known degenerative disease of the liver is called Cirrhosis. This is when the liver’s healthy cells are replaced by scar tissue. Often this is from living with chronic hepatitis or prolonged alcohol abuse. When the healthy cells give way to scar tissue, the organ loses function. With severe damage, you can go into liver failure and possibly die. This leads plenty to ask, “How long can you live with liver cirrhosis?”

How Long Can You Live with Cirrhosis of the Liver?

Cirrhosis is a serious disease and causes slow, degenerative damage to your liver. Two major types exist, called decompensated and compensated cirrhosis of the liver. Compensated is when your liver can sustain damage and still perform the main functions. With this diagnosis, life expectancy is good. When in decompensated cirrhosis, your liver doesn’t take care of main functions. Because the important functions aren’t covered, serious complications like renal failure can happen. This will cause ascites, blood when coughing, mental status change (encephalopathy) and infections.

How long can you live with cirrhosis of the liver? Generally, those who have liver cirrhosis have shorter life spans. It is hard to predict life expectancy exactly with those suffering from cirrhosis, because the cause of the disorder is highly variable. Other variables include percentage of cirrhosis, responsiveness to treatment, and degree of liver reserve. These variables can also affect life expectancy of the patient. Those who have compensated cirrhosis tend to live longer without a liver transplant. Those who have decompensated cirrhosis and complications, have less optimistic prognosis.

The stage of cirrhosis, even with decompensated cirrhosis, affects life expectancy. Patients with stage 4 cirrhosis, known as End-Stage, have complete damage and their only life expectancy option is liver transplant. With some, particularly those with severe symptoms, transplant may not even help.

How long can you live with cirrhosis of the liver? Here are some tools to figure the prognosis of one with liver cirrhosis. They grade according to the severity of the cirrhosis.

There are three major types of cirrhosis. These are Type A, B and C. There are five symptoms used in scoring liver disease, they range from 1 forward. These include clinical symptoms such encephalopathy, and ascites. Blood tests are recommended, including those for clotting, albumin, and bilirubin. The score for cirrhosis determines the types, such as:

Therefore, Class A and B are considered low to moderate risk with a better prognosis than Class C liver cirrhosis.

The other system of measurement is called MELD or model of end-stage liver disease. This determines which patients need liver transplant. Blood tests for creatinine, bilirubin and clotting are used.

Generally, with any system, the higher the score, the shorter the life expectancy the patient can expect.

There has been some improvement with liver transplant, therefore improving life expectancy. Even considering the improvements, liver transplant is not available in all cases. Some reasons are:

How to Manage Liver Cirrhosis

There are some lifestyle changes you can utilize, as well as medications to help with underlying causes, preventing your cirrhosis of the liver from getting worse. It can help to reduce additional problems.

Lifestyle Changes

There are many things you can do to improve your health and reduce your risk of having further trouble.

Dietary Change


If you are on medicine for your liver, it usually treats the cause of the cirrhosis. This may be anti-virals for your hepatitis, etc.

Ease Your Symptoms

There are some things you can do to help ease symptoms, such as:

Managing Complications

With advanced liver cirrhosis, complications can need treatment as well.

Swollen Veins in the Esophagus

Fluid in Legs and Tummy


Those with cirrhosis can develop other problems such as brain function (encephalopathy). This can cause symptoms such as drowsiness, confusion and trouble concentrating. This will happen because the liver isn’t clearing out toxins.

The common encephalopathy is lactulose syrup. This is used as a laxative and clears out built up toxins. Some patients are given Rifaximin for resistant cases.


Liver cirrhosis can make blood clotting more difficult, putting you at risk should you cut yourself. Plasma and vitamin K can be used in emergencies. You will also need to apply pressure to the cut. Make sure to get specialist advice before any procedures, even dental work.

Liver Transplant

If your liver is severely damaged by scarring, it may stop functioning completely. In this case, liver transplant is your only solution. This is major surgery, taking out the diseased liver and placing a healthy one in. You will likely have a wait, because there will be other people on the list. If you are still drinking, you can not have a liver transplant.

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