Cirrhosis - Topic Overview
It is important to get treated
for cirrhosis as soon as possible. Treatment cannot cure cirrhosis. But it can
sometimes prevent or delay further liver damage. Treatment may include
medicines, surgery, or other options, depending on what caused your cirrhosis
and what problems it is causing.
There are things you can do to
help limit the damage to your liver and control the symptoms:
- Do not drink any alcohol. If you don't stop
completely, liver damage may quickly get worse.
- Talk to your
doctor before you take any medicines. This includes both
prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, supplements, and herbs.
Drugs that can be dangerous include acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) and
anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin, for
- Make sure your
immunizations are up-to-date. You are at higher risk
- Follow a
low-sodium diet. This can help prevent fluid buildup,
a common problem in cirrhosis that can become life-threatening.
Symptoms may not appear until a problem is severe. So it
is important to see your doctor for regular checkups and lab tests. You may
also need testing to check for possible problems such as:
- Enlarged veins, called varices (say
"VAIR-uh-seez"), in the digestive tract. Varices can bleed.
cancer. People with cirrhosis are at higher risk for liver cancer.
If cirrhosis becomes life-threatening, then
liver transplant may be an option. But transplant is
expensive, organs are hard to find, and it doesn't always work. For these
reasons, doctors have to decide who would get the most benefit from a liver
transplant. Ask your doctor what steps you can take now to improve your overall
health so you can be a good candidate for transplant.
cirrhosis is getting worse, you may choose to get care that focuses on your
comfort and dignity.
Palliative care can provide support and symptom relief
so you can make the most of the time you have left. You may also want to make
important end-of-life decisions, such as writing a
living will. It can be comforting to know that you
will get the type of care you want.
It can be hard to face having
cirrhosis. If you feel very sad or hopeless, be sure to tell your doctor. You
may be able to get counseling or other types of help. Think about joining a
support group. Talking with other people who have cirrhosis can be a big
Frequently Asked Questions