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Cirrhosis (cont.)

Medical Treatment

Most treatment for cirrhosis is directed toward relief of complications. Some underlying causes of cirrhosis, such as Wilson's disease, can be treated with medication.

  • Many medicines have been studied, such as steroids, penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen), and an anti-inflammatory agent (colchicine), but they have not been shown to prolong survival or improve survival rate.
  • Researchers are studying various experimental treatments for cirrhosis.
Portal hypertension

Some people are treated with a drug called a beta-blocker to lower the pressure in the blood vessels.

Ascites

The slowing of blood flow through your liver increases the pressure in the blood vessels. This forces fluid out of the blood vessels and into other tissues, where it is retained.

  • Your health care provider may prescribe water pills (a diuretic), which removes extra fluid from your body. This medication will make you urinate more often.
  • Your health care provider may insert a needle into your abdomen to directly remove large amounts of fluid. However, the fluid usually collects again.
  • If the fluid becomes infected, you will have to stay in the hospital and receive IV antibiotics.
Hepatic encephalopathy

If symptoms are severe, you will have to stay in the hospital, especially if you have become so confused you cannot care for yourself.

  • You will be given lactulose, a drink that reduces the amounts of toxins absorbed into your intestinal tract.
  • You may be started on a low-protein diet.
  • Combining these 2 treatments improves symptoms in 75 percent of cases.
If symptoms are mild, you might be sent home and instructed to take lactulose every day and change to a low-protein diet, but to return if symptoms come back.

Clotting disorders

Adequate protein intake and vitamin supplements can help to correct clotting disorders.

Itching

Medications are available to reduce itching.

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Cirrhosis:

Cirrhosis of The Liver - Symptoms

The symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

Cirrhosis of the Liver - Treatment

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Cirrhosis »

Cirrhosis represents the final common histologic pathway for a wide variety of chronic liver diseases. The term cirrhosis was first introduced by Laennec in 1826.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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