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What are the Common Causes of Liver Scarring?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By anon989926 — On Mar 27, 2015

The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a member of the herpes virus family, is found throughout the world. Studies show that up to 95 percent of all adults have antibodies against this common virus, meaning that they were infected at some point in their lives. Some infected persons get tremendous pain in their liver and liver scaring from this. Allergies can also agitate this condition. This condition is can mimic mononucleosis in some persons.

By fify — On Sep 29, 2012

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.

By donasmrs — On Sep 28, 2012
@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.

By fBoyle — On Sep 27, 2012
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.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison


Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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