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Cirrhosis
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Cirrhosis

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
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From MayoClinic.com

Prevention

Although not all cases of cirrhosis are preventable, the following measures can greatly reduce your risk:

  • Avoid alcohol or drink in moderation. Alcohol is a toxin that must be filtered by your liver. In the process, liver cells become damaged. Unfortunately, you may not recognize that you have a problem with alcohol before serious liver damage has occurred. Knowing and recognizing a family history of alcoholism for you or others is an important step in seeking treatment.

  • Protect yourself from hepatitis C. Because there's no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, the only way to protect yourself is to avoid exposure to the virus. If you aren't absolutely certain of the health status of a sexual partner, use a new condom every time you have sex. Don't use nasal cocaine and avoid sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia. Contaminated drug paraphernalia is responsible for about half of all new cases of hepatitis C. See your doctor if you have or have had hepatitis C or think you may have been exposed to the virus.

  • Protect yourself from hepatitis B. A vaccine for hepatitis B has been available since 1981. Although vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others, these measures can also keep you safe: Know the health status of every sexual partner. If you don't know, use a new condom every time you have sex. And if you use needles to inject drugs, be sure they're sterile and don't share them.

Self-care

Although the damage from cirrhosis is irreversible, the disease often progresses slowly, and you can take steps to reduce further liver damage:

  • Avoid alcohol. This is the single most important measure you can take to help protect your liver and reduce the risk or severity of complications. Avoiding alcohol is crucial, no matter what type of cirrhosis you have.

  • Limit medications. Because your damaged liver isn't able to detoxify and eliminate drugs from your system, discuss all medications, including nonprescription drugs, with your doctor. Be especially careful not to combine the pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or any other analgesic with alcohol, even if you take only the recommended daily amount of the drug.

  • Avoid people who are sick. When your liver is damaged, you can't fight off infections as easily as healthy people. Do everything that's reasonable to avoid getting sick. Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B, influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Because cirrhosis can cause a number of nutritional deficiencies along with weight loss, it's especially important to obtain at least 2,000 to 3,000 calories from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and small amounts of protein every day. These foods are high in nutrients, including vitamins A, C and E. Cirrhosis tends to deplete these important vitamins. Your doctor may also prescribe supplemental vitamins K, A and D.

  • Restrict salt. Because the sodium in salt causes your body to retain water, it can contribute to or increase fluid buildup in your legs and abdomen. In addition to not adding salt to your food, it's best to avoid high-sodium prepared foods, such as canned soups and cold cuts, and condiments such as soy sauce, catsup and mayonnaise. Lemon juice and herbs make good salt substitutes.

  • Avoid raw shellfish. Uncooked oysters, clams and other shellfish may contain the bacterium vibrio vulnificus, which can be extremely dangerous for people with cirrhosis. It's best to avoid shellfish altogether, but if you do eat them, be sure they're thoroughly cooked.

Cirrhosis > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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