The cause of primary biliary cirrhosis is unknown. The disease affects women more often than men, and usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 60 years. Some research suggests that the disease might be caused by a problem within the immune system.
The most common symptoms of primary biliary cirrhosis are itchy skin and fatigue. Other symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), cholesterol deposits on the skin, fluid retention, and dry eyes or mouth. Some people with primary biliary cirrhosis also have osteoporosis, arthritis, and thyroid problems.
Primary biliary cirrhosis is diagnosed through laboratory tests, x-rays, and in some cases, a liver biopsy (a simple operation to remove a small piece of liver tissue). Treatment may include taking vitamin and calcium supplements, hormone therapy, and medicines to relieve symptoms. A liver transplant may be necessary if the liver is severely damaged.
More information is available from
American Liver Foundation
Additional Information on Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse collects resource information on digestive diseases for the Combined Health Information Database (CHID). CHID is a database produced by health-related agencies of the Federal Government. This database provides titles, abstracts, and availability information for health information and health education resources.
To provide you with the most up-to-date resources, information specialists at the clearinghouse created an automatic search of CHID. To obtain this information you may view the results of the automatic search on Primary Biliary Cirrhosis.
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National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Bethesda, MD 20892-3570
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Established in 1980, the clearinghouse provides information about digestive diseases to people with digestive disorders and to their families, health care professionals, and the public. NDDIC answers inquiries; develops and distributes publications; and works closely with professional and patient organizations and Government agencies to coordinate resources about digestive diseases.
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NIH Publication No. 99-4625
Updated: February 2001