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No treatment will cure cirrhosis or repair scarring in the liver that has already occurred. But treatment can sometimes prevent or delay further liver damage. Treatment involves lifestyle changes, medicines, and regular doctor visits. In some cases, you may need surgery for treatment of complications from cirrhosis.
Your doctor will recommend some lifestyle changes to help prevent further liver damage.
Treatment for complications of cirrhosis
Cirrhosis can cause other problems (complications) that need treatment with medicines or procedures. Complications include:
It's important to work with your doctor to watch your condition, especially because symptoms may not start until a problem has become severe. In addition to regular checkups and lab tests, you will also need periodic screening for enlarged veins (varices) and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
Receiving a liver from an organ donor (liver transplant) is the only treatment that will restore normal liver function and cure portal hypertension. A liver transplant is usually considered only when liver damage is severe and threatening your life.
Before your condition becomes severe, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether you will be a good candidate for a liver transplant if your disease becomes advanced.
Liver transplant surgery is very expensive. You may have to wait a long time for a transplant, because so few organs are available. Even if a transplant occurs, it may not work. With these things in mind, doctors must decide who will benefit most from receiving a liver. Good candidates include those who have not abused alcohol or illegal drugs for the previous 6 months and those who have a good support system of family and friends.
Talk to your doctor about what steps you can take now to improve your overall health so that you can increase your chances of being considered a good candidate.
If your cirrhosis gets worse, you may want to think about palliative care. This is a kind of care for people who have illnesses that do not go away and often get worse over time. Palliative care focuses on improving your quality of life—not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit.
For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.
If you have not already made decisions about the issues that may arise at the end of life, consider doing so now. Many people find it helpful and comforting to state their health care choices in writing (with an advance directive such as a living will) while they are still able to make and communicate these decisions. You may also think about who you would choose as your health care agent to make and carry out decisions about your care if you were unable to speak for yourself. For more information, see the topics:
A time may come when your goals change from treating or curing an illness to maintaining comfort and dignity. Hospice care health professionals can provide palliative care and comforting surroundings for someone who is preparing to die.
For more information, see the topic Hospice Care.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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