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 (ascites) 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 or prevent infection in the fluid in your belly
What to Expect at Home
Your health care provider will talk with you about what to expect at home. This will depend on your symptoms and what caused your cirrhosis.
Medicines you may need to take include:
- 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 provider can help you stop drinking.
Limit salt in your diet.
- Ask your provider which foods you should avoid. Your provider or nutritionist can give you a low-salt diet.
- Learn to read labels on cans and packaged foods to avoid salt.
- DO NOT add salt to your foods or use it in cooking. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your foods.
Ask your provider 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 if you need shots or vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, lung infections, and the flu.
You will need to see your provider for regular follow-up visits. Make sure you go to these visits so your condition can be checked.
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 provider if you have:
- Fever above 100.5°F (38°C), 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 sequelae. Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 153.
Kamath PS, Shah VH. Overview of cirrhosis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 74.
Review Date 1/29/2017
Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.