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Treating Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a condition where the liver is damaged. Scar tissue slowly replaces healthy tissue. Treatment can control or slow liver scarring. Follow your doctor’s instructions closely to get the most out of your treatment. And ask your family and friends for support.

Alcoholic drinks and bottles of alcohol with circle and slash indicating not to drink these.

Making a Treatment Plan

You and your doctor will decide on a treatment plan that’s best for you. The plan may include one or more of the following:

  • Avoiding alcohol. Heavy alcohol use can damage the liver. Once the liver is damaged, even a small amount of alcohol can cause problems.

  • Medications. These may be given to treat some causes of cirrhosis, such as infection or a bile duct blockage. If needed, medication may be used to improve blood clotting. And medication can be given if your immune system is attacking the liver or bile ducts.

  • Treating symptoms. Cirrhosis can cause swelling in the abdomen and legs. A low-salt diet can help relieve this symptom. So can taking “water pills” (diuretics).

  • Eating healthy foods.

  • Losing excess weight.

  • Removal of iron from the blood to decrease iron levels in liver tissue if these levels are high.

Severe cases of cirrhosis may need special treatments. Your doctor can discuss them with you.

Avoiding Alcohol

Alcohol use can destroy liver cells. If you have problems quitting alcohol, get the support you need. Your doctor may be able to suggest local groups that can help you stop drinking alcohol.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fincannon, Joy, RN, MN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 12/1/2013
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