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Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a condition caused by inflammation of the small bile ducts in the liver, leading to cirrhosis. Inflammation later spreads and destroys liver cells. This leads to scarring and toxicity arising out of trapped bile. This condition is not caused by alcohol or drug. It is an autoimmune disorder that is more likely to affect women than men.


Primary biliary cirrhosis advances over the years and often the patient may not experience any symptoms and may not look ill at all. Persons suffering from PBC tend to feel severe fatigue. There may be severe itching on the skin. Hyperpigmentation may be noticed on the skin of a person suffering from PBC. There may be thyroid problems and joint pains. Dry Eye syndrome is also noticed. Another symptom of Primary biliary cirrhosis is enlarged abdomen. The patient may notice easy bruising and bleeding. Pain is felt in the abdomen and liver areas. Renal stones and gallstones may develop. As the condition worsens, there may be softening of the bones making them susceptible to fractures. Jaundice is often noticed in patients suffering from Primary biliary cirrhosis. It also results in digestive problems and infection of the urinary tract.


An alkaline phosphatase activity test can help diagnose PBC. Liver function tests and other diagnostic tests such as serum cholesterol and lipoproteins are also conducted. A liver biopsy can aid the physician in understanding the severity and extent of liver damage. Any thyroid malfunction is corrected with thyroid hormone. Corticosteroids are prescribed to patients suffering from Primary biliary cirrhosis. Cholestyramine may be effective in reducing the itching. Liver transplantation is the final alternative when there are signs of liver failure such as GI bleeding, jaundice and accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.

  • Quit smoking
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids
  • Reduce alcohol, caffeine
  • Increase Calcium and Vitamin D supplements
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: September 23, 2019