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Cirrhosis - Topic Overview

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 for infections.
  • 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.

If your 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 help.

Learning about cirrhosis:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Living with cirrhosis:

End-of-life issues:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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