You have cirrhosis of the liver. Scar tissue forms and your liver gets smaller and harder. Most of the time, this damage cannot be undone. However, the problems it causes can be treated.
While you were in the hospital, you may have had:
- Lab tests, x-rays, and other imaging exams
- A sample of liver tissue taken (biopsy)
- Treatment with drugs
- Fluid drained from your belly
- Tiny rubber bands tied around blood vessels in your esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach)
- Placement of a tube or shunt (TIPS or TIPSS) to help prevent too much fluid in your belly
- Antibiotics to treat an infection in your belly
What to Expect at Home
Your doctor will talk with you about what to expect at home. This will depend on your symptoms and what caused your cirrhosis.
Medicines your doctor may prescribe are:
- Lactulose, neomycin, or rifaximin for confusion caused by liver problems
- Medicines to help prevent bleeding from your swallowing tube or esophagus
- Water pills, for extra fluid in your body
- Antibiotics, for infection in your belly
Do not drink any alcohol. Your doctor can help you stop drinking.
Limit salt in your diet.
- Ask your doctor which foods you should avoid. Your doctor or nutritionist can give you a low-salt diet.
- Learn to read labels on cans and packaged foods to avoid salt.
- Don't add salt to your foods or use it in cooking. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your foods.
Ask your doctor before taking any other medicines, vitamins, herbs, or supplements that you buy at the store. This includes acetaminophen (Tylenol), cold medicines, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and others.
Ask your doctor if you need shots or vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, lung infections, and the flu.
You will need to see your doctor for regular follow-up visits. Make sure you go to these visits so your doctor can check your condition.
Other tips for caring for your liver are:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Keep your weight at a healthy level.
- Try to avoid becoming constipated.
- Get enough exercise and rest.
- Try to reduce your stress.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or nurse if you have:
- Fever above 100.5 °F, or a fever that does not go away
- Belly pain
- Blood in your stool or black, tarry stools
- Blood in your vomit
- Bruising or bleeding more easily
- A buildup of fluid in your belly
- Swollen legs or ankles
- Breathing problems
- Confusion or problems staying awake
- Yellow color to your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
Liver failure - discharge; Liver cirrhosis - discharge
Garcia-Tsao, G. Cirrhosis and its sequellae. Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds.Cecil Medicine.
Update Date 2/10/2013
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.