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Fulminant Hepatic Failure


Fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) is also called acute liver failure. FHF occurs when your liver is damaged and suddenly stops working properly. This may cause damage to other tissues or organs, such as your brain. Brain problems may happen within 2 weeks to 3 months after your FHF starts.



  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:

    • Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.

    • Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.

    • Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.

    • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.

    • Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.

      • Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.

      • You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.

  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.

  • Antivirals help treat or prevent a viral infection. Antiviral medicine may also be given to control symptoms of a viral infection that cannot be cured.

  • Steroids may be given to decrease inflammation.

  • Laxatives may help reduce the amount of ammonia in your blood by drawing it into your colon. It then leaves your body in your bowel movements.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You bruise or bleed easily.

  • You have a fever.

  • Your blood pressure reading is higher than is normal for you.

  • Your symptoms come back after treatment.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You feel lightheaded or have fainted.

  • You have shaking chills and a high fever.

  • You have trouble thinking clearly, or you are confused.

  • You have sudden shortness of breath.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Fulminant Hepatic Failure (Discharge Care)