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Cirrhosis - discharge

Alternate Names

Liver failure - discharge; Liver cirrhosis - discharge

When You Were in the Hospital

You have cirrhosis of the liver. Your liver is damaged and has become shrunken, firm, and scarred. This happened little by little over many years. Most times, this damage cannot be undone.

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 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 transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS)
  • Antibiotics to treat an infection in your belly.

What to Expect at Home

Your doctor will talk with you about what to expect at home. This will depend on your symptoms and what caused your cirrhosis.

Medicines your doctor may prescribe are

  • Lactulose, neomycin, or rifaximin for confusion caused by liver problems
  • Propanolol (Inderal) or isosorbide, to help prevent bleeding from your esophagus
  • Diuretics (water pills), for extra fluid in your body
  • Antibiotics, for infection in your belly

Self-care

Do not drink any alcohol. Your doctor can help you stop.

Limit salt in your diet.

  • Ask your doctor which foods you should avoid. See also: Low-salt diet
  • Learn to read labels on cans and packaged foods to avoid salt. See also: How to read food labels
  • Don't add salt to your foods when you cook. Do not sprinkle salt on your food. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your foods.

Ask your doctor 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), and others.

Ask your doctor if you need shots (immunizations) for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and the flu.

You will need to see your doctor for regular follow-up visits. Keep these appointments so your doctor can check your condition.

Other tips for caring for your liver are:

  • Eat a healthy diet and keep your weight at a healthy level.
  • Try to avoid constipation.
  • Get enough exercise and rest.
  • Try to reduce your stress.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if you have:

  • Fever above 100.5 °F, 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)

References

Heidelbaugh JJ, Sherbondy M. Cirrhosis and Chronic Liver Failure: Part II. Complications and Treatment. American Family Physician. Sept 2006;74(5).


Review Date: 3/17/2009
Reviewed By: George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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