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Discharge Instructions for Cirrhosis of the Liver

You have been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. This is a long-term (chronic) problem. It occurs when liver tissue is destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. Causes of cirrhosis include:

  • Infection such as viral hepatitis

  • Chronic alcoholism

  • The body’s immune system attacks healthy cells (autoimmune disorders)

  • Obesity

  • Medicine side effects

  • Genetic diseases

Sometimes the exact cause is unknown. You may not have any symptoms at first. Or your symptoms may be mild. But they usually get worse. Cirrhosis is likely to occur if you have a history of long-term alcohol abuse. Cirrhosis can’t be cured. But it can be treated. 

Home care

Alcohol

  • People with liver disease should not drink alcohol. If you stop drinking, you may feel better and live longer.

  • If you are a chronic alcohol user, you will have withdrawal symptoms. Talk with your healthcare provider for more information.  

  • If alcohol is a problem, ask your provider about medicine that can help you quit drinking.  

  • Find a local Alcoholics Anonymous support group online at www.aa.org.

Diet

  • Ask your provider what kind of diet you should follow. You may be asked to limit or not eat certain foods. Do not limit your protein intake.

  • Weigh yourself daily and keep a weight log. If you have a sudden change in weight, call your provider.

  • Cut back on salt:

    • Limit canned, dried, packaged, and fast foods.

    • Don’t add salt to your food at the table.

    • Season foods with herbs instead of salt when you cook.

Medicines, supplements, and vaccines

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed.

  • Talk to your provider before taking vitamins, over-the-counter medicines, or herbal supplements. Many herbal supplements may be poisonous (toxic) to the liver.

  • Avoid aspirin and other blood-thinning medicines.

  • Discuss vitamin supplements and deficiencies with your provider.

  • Ask your provider about getting vaccinations for viruses that can cause liver diseases.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. You will likely have the following tests:

  • Lab tests

  • Blood tests for liver cancer

  • Ultrasound of your liver every 6 months

  • Endoscopy to check for swollen veins (varices) in your digestive tract

When to call your provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue), weakness, or lack of appetite

  • Vomiting (with or without blood)

  • Yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice)

  • Itching

  • Swelling in your belly or legs

  • Black or tarry stools

  • Skin that bruises easily

  • Confusion or trouble thinking clearly

Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Last Review Date: 8/1/2016
© 2000-2016 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.