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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Esophageal varices are swollen veins in the lower part of your esophagus. They are caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels of your liver. As the pressure builds in your liver, the pressure also builds in the veins in your esophagus.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- You see blood in your vomit or bowel movements.
- You have chest pain or you are short of breath.
- You have trouble thinking clearly.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to decrease the pressure in your liver or to reduce stomach acid.
- 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 of her 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.
Prevent your varices from bleeding:
- Do not drink alcohol. This will help prevent more damage to your esophagus and liver. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help to quit drinking.
- Eat healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet. You may need to eat foods that reduce stomach acid. Stomach acid can get into your esophagus and cause the varices to break open and bleed.
- Limit sodium (salt). You may need to decrease the amount of sodium you eat if you have swelling caused by fluid buildup. Fluid buildup can cause increased pressure in your veins. Sodium is found in table salt and salty foods such as canned foods, frozen foods, and potato chips.
- Drink liquids as directed. Too much liquid can increase the pressure in your veins. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to return for more treatments. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.