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Cirrhosis is long-term scarring of the liver. The liver helps digest food, clean your blood, and fight infection.



  • Antiviral medicine: You may need to take antiviral medicine if your cirrhosis is caused by hepatitis. Antiviral medicine may prevent or decrease swelling and damage to your liver.
  • Blood pressure medicine: This is used to treat high blood pressure in the porta vein (the vein that goes to your liver).
  • Diuretics: This medicine is given to decrease edema (excess fluid) that collects in a part of your body, such as your legs and abdomen. Diuretics can also decrease your blood pressure. It is often called water pills. You will urinate more often when you take this medicine.
  • Anti-itching medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to help keep your skin from itching. This medicine may be given in an IV, as a shot, by mouth, or as a skin lotion. Sometimes this medicine can make you sleepy.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call 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. Your healthcare provider may need to change the type or dose of medicine you take.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Do not drink alcohol:

This will help prevent further damage to your liver.


  • Eat a variety of healthy foods: People with cirrhosis may have malnutrition. Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
  • Limit sodium: You may need to decrease the amount of sodium (salt) you eat if your swelling was caused by fluid buildup. Sodium is found in canned foods, frozen foods, and potato chips.
  • Drink liquids as directed: Ask your healthcare provider what amount is best for you. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and milk.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have red or itchy skin.
  • You are in pain and feel weak.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have pain during a bowel movement and it is black or contains blood.
  • You have a fast heart rate and fast breathing.
  • You are dizzy or confused.
  • You have severe pain in your abdomen.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • Your vomit looks like it has coffee grinds or blood in it.

© 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.