Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Understanding Treatment for Cirrhosis

What Are the Treatments for Cirrhosis? continued...

For Wilson's disease, doctors generally prescribe medications that rid the body of accumulated copper. It may be necessary to continue these drugs for life. In the case of hemochromatosis, the best way to dispose of excess iron is to draw blood from the patient once or twice a week. This may be kept up for as long as two years, or until the iron level reaches its normal range. Treatment then continues every two to four months.

Severe cirrhosis may require a liver transplant, a serious procedure usually regarded as a last resort. Transplants are not appropriate for everyone: Some patients are too old, too young, or too sick for the procedure. And people whose cirrhosis is due to alcohol abuse must demonstrate a prolonged period of abstinence before the operation. Doctors generally are hesitant to transplant a liver if the patient is just going to abuse it.

As with any form of major surgery, liver transplants can be risky. The new liver may not function properly, or the body may reject the transplanted organ. There's also the danger that infection will set in after surgery. Still, the procedure has a promising success rate overall. About 6,000 liver transplants are performed in the U.S. annually. Survival rates improve each year because of drugs to prevent infection and suppress rejection. Almost 80% of liver transplant patients are still alive five years after their surgery.

Good nutrition often plays a vital role in the treatment of cirrhosis. Although parts of the liver that have given way to scar tissue can't be restored, a balanced diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, and protein, can help promote regeneration among cells in the intact portion. Adults with the disease need to monitor their intake of protein. Too little protein can slow cell regeneration, and too much can raise the amount of ammonia in your bloodstream, possibly leading to mental impairment. Check with a doctor or nutritionist for the amount of protein that's right for you.

Because the liver must filter and refine substances that are introduced into the body, patients with cirrhosis are often told to seek medical advice before taking large doses of vitamins or other dietary supplements. Cirrhosis patients should also avoid eating uncooked shellfish, which are sometimes harvested in polluted waters and may carry organisms that cause hepatitis or other disease.

Cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer. Screening the liver for liver cancer is recommended by performing an ultrasound every six to 12 months.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 01, 2015
1 | 2

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
top foods for probiotics
couple eating at cafe
sick child
Woman blowing bubble gum

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Woman with stomach pain
diet for diverticulitis
what causes diarrhea