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Laennec's cirrhosis is another name for alcoholic liver disease. The name comes from a famous French doctor named Thophile Hyacinthe Laennec, who was also an expert on tuberculosis. Laennec's cirrhosis generally tends to progress in stages, and each stage is usually more dangerous than the last. When the liver starts to fail because of alcohol abuse, all sorts of major body functions will generally start to malfunction along with it. The disease can potentially kill a person if it is not treated appropriately and quickly.
Some people can drink constantly without developing liver problems, but for others, their livers will gradually become inflamed. This inflammation is called hepatitis, and it is usually the first step on the road to Laennec's cirrhosis. Over time, all this inflammation can gradually cause a buildup of scar tissue in a person’s liver. This causes the liver to become hard and start functioning very poorly—a hardening of the liver caused by scar tissue is known as cirrhosis. Once this damage is done, it can’t generally be undone, although the person may be able to implement some lifestyle changes that can help avoid further damage and prolong life expectancy.
The symptoms of Laennec's cirrhosis are often extremely varied, partly because the liver does so many important things for a person’s body. The best-known symptom is probably jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin caused by the liver’s failure to clean toxins from a person’s blood. Other common symptoms include blackened stool, weakness, fatigue, and dryness of the mouth and throat. People may find that they have no appetite, and they might have a hard time mentally keeping track of things going on around them. Eventually, people may start to vomit, and sometimes this vomit can include digestive blood, which looks a bit like brown sand or coffee.
When trying to treat Laennec's cirrhosis, experts suggest that the first and most important step is to stop any kind of drinking immediately. This can help protect the liver from further damage. If this is not done, the disease will often continue to progress, and the person may die. Even if the individual abstains from any further alcohol consumption, his or her life expectancy might still be shortened by the damage that has already occurred. Stopping can potentially make a big difference, but this is often more difficult for some people than for others because of the addictive nature of alcohol.