Primary biliary cirrhosis

Primary biliary cirrhosis

Primary biliary cirrhosis is irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the bile ducts of the liver.

Primary biliary cirrhosis is irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the bile ducts of the liver. This blocks the flow of bile, which damages the liver cells and leads to scarring called cirrhosis. The cause of inflamed bile ducts in the liver is not known. However, primary biliary cirrhosis is an autoimmune disorder. That means your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. The disease more commonly affects middle-aged women. Long-term bile obstruction is believed to lead to liver cirrhosis. The disease may be linked to autoimmune disorders such as: celiac disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon, sicca syndrome (dry eyes or mouth), and thyroid disease. More than half of patients have no symptoms at the time of diagnosis. Symptoms most often come on slowly and may include: abdominal pain, enlarged liver, fatigue, fatty deposits under the skin, fatty stools, itching, jaundice, and soft yellow spots on the eyelid. The outcome can vary. If the condition is not treated, most patients will die without a liver transplant. About a quarter of patients who have had the disease for 10 years will have liver failure. Doctors can now use a statistical model to predict the best time to do the transplant. Other diseases such as hypothyroidism and anemia can also develop.

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Patricia Barber
Patricia Barber
For the last 20 years, Pat has been helping patients and caregivers live better lives, advocate for change, and Virginia's "right hand" making sure the "i's" are dotted and the "t's" are crossed. She lives in Michigan and couldn't picture herself doing anything but helping the autoimmune community.