Difference Between Cirrhosis and Hepatitis

Cirrhosis vs Hepatitis

The liver of the vertebrate animal is a very important organ. In the human being, it is located just under the diaphragm in the abdominal cavity, having a massive blood supply, and carrying out a multitude of actions. These actions range from synthesis proteins, cholesterol, clotting factors and bile, metabolism of carbohydrates, toxins, drugs, hormones and ammonia, and storage of glycogen, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, copper and iron. The liver is also playing an important role as a part of the reticuloendothelial system, doing its part in breaking up cells and cellular debris. The liver also has a part in maintaining the oncotic pressure in the circulatory system. Due to its locality, highly vascular nature and functions, the human liver is prone to get afflicted with damage caused from trauma to cancer. Here, one of the commonest conditions, and their definition, causes, symptoms, management and follow up will be discussed.


Cirrhosis is the diffuse scarring of the liver following the death of liver cells with the formation of nodules on the surface of the liver. It is the final phase of the chronic liver disease. The commonest causes for this condition are alcohol consumption and long term viral infections with Hepatitis B and C. Other causes like autoimmune conditions, disordered bile excretion (billiary cirrhosis), metabolic disorders (excess iron / copper) are some of the other causes. This condition presents with abdominal pain, confusion, blood vomiting, black stools, jaundice, oedema of the body, spider like vessel eruptions on the chest, cheek swelling, breast enlargement, hair loss (of the body), etc. As it has reached the tipping point the damage cannot be reversed, but further damage can be prevented by stopping alcohol, vaccinating against hepatitis, etc., and the symptoms like bleeding, oedema, confusion (encephalopathy) can be managed. Unless a liver transplantation is done, the outcome for patient with cirrhosis is very bleak.


Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. Almost all the causes for cirrhosis will lead to hepatitis at its earlier stages. One of the most common infective causes is Hepatitis A, and the medication related one is the overdose of acetaminophen. They will present with abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, lethargy, jaundice, dark urine and clay stools, etc. In this instance also, the patient will be managed in a supportive manner with catering for the symptoms, and giving a high calorie diet, and being on the outlook for complications and features of liver failure. This type of patient has a highly favourable outcome.

Difference between Cirrhosis and Hepatitis

In comparison, cirrhosis and hepatitis share common causes, and features of hepatitis lie on the road leading to cirrhosis. The management in both the conditions is supportive, and the diseases can be prevented by vaccinating against infective organisms. Cirrhosis is a late stage disease, and hepatitis is an early stage disease. Hepatitis A is a cause of hepatitis, but it will never cause cirrhosis. Features of hepatitis are generalized, with scattered early features of biliary blockage, but cirrhotic will have features of decompensated liver disease with complications like ascites, haematemesis, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and renal failure. The outcome of a patient with cirrhosis is very poor, whereas a patient with hepatitis is good. Liver transplantation is a necessity in cirrhosis, whereas in hepatitis not so much.

In summary, cirrhosis is a condition where hepatitis would end up with, if not properly managed and followed up. A patient with cirrhosis will never fall back to the normal life, unless with a liver transplantation, but a hepatitis patient will come back to normal.