Find the cause and cure of PBC through research.
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic liver disease that slowly destroys the bile ducts within the liver. Liver inflammation over a period of years may cause scarring which leads to cirrhosis. PBC is NOT alcohol or drug related, and it is NOT contagious.
With early diagnosis and proper medications, most with PBC will never reach the cirrhosis stage of PBC.
The cause of PBC is still unknown, but it is not alcohol or drug induced. Current studies suggest it may involve autoimmunity, infection, or genetic predisposition, and does seem to appear more often in certain families. Women are affected 10 times more than men, and PBC is usually diagnosed in patients between the ages of 35 to 60 years.
PBC advances slowly over a period of years. Most patients lead normal lives for years without symptoms, depending on how early diagnosis is made.
There is no cure for PBC, but with proper medication the disease slows in it's progress.
PBC is considered an autoimmune disease. Some diagnosed with PBC, may also be diagnosed with one or more other autoimmune diseases.
Fatigue may be the first symptom the patient notices. The fatigue associated with PBC appears to be totally different from any other sort of fatigue. In early stages, many patients have commented they could sleep for hours. While some in the later stages say sleeping becomes more difficult. At this time, there is little research into the cause and treatment of the liver disease fatigue. It is usually not due to depression, and some researchers believe it is an abnormality of the axis between the pituitary and the adrenal glands.
Intense and unrelenting itching of the skin is the second most common symptom. Over the years, as the PBC progresses, other symptoms may appear.
There are four stages of PBC, with the end stage of PBC being liver failure. Many signs indicate liver failure: increased bilirubin, jaundice, fluid accumulation or ascites, malnutrition, gastrointestinal bleeding, intractable itching, bone fractures and hepatic coma. Transplant is recommended before most of these symptoms occur. Recent studies suggest that about 30% of those diagnosed with PBC will require a transplant. The transplant outcome for PBC patients is excellent.
As with any other chronic illness, support and understanding is very important in helping the PBC patient cope with day to day living.
1. With continuous research and support, a cause and cure will be found.