2016-06-16 14:38:49 UTC

Cirrhosis 105: Treatment

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Caring for cirrhosis is aimed at stopping or slowing liver damage and holding off complications. 

 

General

  • In alcoholic cirrhosis, you must stop drinking alcohol to stop liver damage.
  • Make sure that you are vaccinated for the flu each year, as well for pneumonia and hepatitis A and B. 
  • Talk to your doctor about any prescription or nonprescription medications you are taking, such as acetaminophen.

 

Diet

Good eating habits are key to the care of advanced cirrhosis. 

  • Diets that have easy-to-digest forms of protein, such as legumes, poultry and fish, are important.
  • A low-salt diet is vital if you have edema (swelling) or ascites (the buildup of fluid in the legs or belly).
  • Eating less hard-to-digest proteins, such as red meat, result in fewer toxins in the digestive tract. 
  • Avoid eating raw seafood, as this may cause severe infections.

 

Medication

  • If you have a certain type of hepatitis, your doctor may give you steroids or antiviral drugs to lessen liver-cell damage.
  • If you have edema and ascites, you may be put on a low-salt diet and given diuretics, so that you make more urine to remove fluid and stop the swelling from coming back.
  • Medications can control itching. 

 

Liver Transplant

  • Transplant, taking all of a liver from a deceased person or part of liver from a healthy person, is an option for patients with advanced cirrhosis with liver failure.
  • Long-term success rates of liver transplants are good.
  • Thinking about a transplant requires visits with a team of doctors and lots of testing at a specialty transplant center. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Patients with cirrhosis often live healthy lives for many years. If complications happen, they can often be treated.

Cirrhosis – What to Know:
  • Cirrhosis is when the liver is permanently scarred or injured.
  • Cirrhosis can come from chronic conditions or overuse of alcohol.
  • Cirrhosis can be managed, often with good diet and sometimes medication.

 

© AGA, September 2017

©AGA, July 2016

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