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Cirrhosis (cont.)

What Is the Treatment of Cirrhosis?

Treatment for cirrhosis cannot reverse liver damage, but it can stop or slow progression of the disease causing it and reduce complications. Treatment depends on what is causing the cirrhosis and which particular complications, if any, have appeared.

Self-Care at Home for Cirrhosis

  • Stop drinking alcohol. If you stop all alcohol intake, you may slow the disease and feel better.
  • Avoid medications that may be harmful to your liver, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), or your kidneys, such as ibuprofen (Advil, etc). Ask you health care provider for a list.
  • Cut down on salt if you are having problems with fluid retention. A low-sodium diet helps relieve that problem.
  • Eat a balanced diet with adequate calories and protein. You also may want to take a daily multivitamin if your doctor agrees.
  • If you ever have developed any brain disorder caused by your liver (hepatic encephalopathy), you should decrease your protein intake.

Medical Treatment for Cirrhosis

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.


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.


Medications are available to reduce itching.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/15/2017
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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Cirrhosis (Liver, Symptoms, Stages, and Diet):

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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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