Understanding Cirrhosis of the Liver: First steps for the newly diagnosed

 

Are treatments available?

Yes! Treatments are available. One goal of treatment is to target the cause of the cirrhosis. For example, if your cirrhosis is caused by viral hepatitis, treatment of the infection will be an important part of your care. Treatments for hepatitis C cure almost everyone. Treatments for hepatitis B do not cure the infection, but they can help to keep the virus under control.

Another goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms and complications of cirrhosis. Medications taken by people with cirrhosis include the following:

  • Blood-pressure medications, such as beta-blockers, are used to lower pressure in blood vessels that carry blood through the liver.
  • Diuretics (water pills), such as hydrochlorothiazide or furosemide, are used to reduce the swelling from ascites and edema.
  • The laxative lactulose helps to clear the toxin ammonia from your system. This keeps your mind clear and prevents confusion or brain fog. Talk to your healthcare provider about figuring out a way of taking it that works for you and doesn’t disrupt your day-to-day activities.

Varices in the food pipe (esophagus) and stomach, which are a serious complication of cirrhosis, can usually be treated. Doctors can use various procedures to repair them and can prescribe medicines afterwards to maintain treatment. Surgery, including liver transplant, may be an option in serious cases of cirrhosis.