Cirrhosis - Topic Overview
The doctor will start
with a physical exam and questions about your symptoms and past health. If the
doctor suspects cirrhosis, you may have blood tests and imaging tests, such as
CT scan. These tests can help your doctor find out
what is causing the liver damage and how severe it is.
that you have cirrhosis, the doctor may do a
liver biopsy. This means that he or she will use a needle
to take a sample of liver tissue for testing.
Treatment may include
medicines, surgery, or other options, depending on the cause of your cirrhosis
and what problems it is causing. 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.
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.
Medicines that can hurt your liver include acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) and other pain medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve).
- Make sure that 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's 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 in your digestive tract or liver cancer.
If cirrhosis becomes life-threatening, then
a liver transplant may be an option. But a transplant is
expensive, organs are hard to find, and it doesn't always work.
Palliative care is a kind of care for people who have serious illnesses. It's different from care to cure your illness. Its goal is to improve your quality of life—not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit.