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Everyday Tips for Living with Liver Cirrhosis

medical illustration of a body highlighting the liver | GI NorthLiver cirrhosis, also known as hepatic fibrosis, is an abnormal condition in which an irreversible scarring of the liver occurs. The main causes of this disease include excessive consumption of alcohol, fatty liver disease, and viral hepatitis B and C. Alcohol consumption contributes to between 20 and 50 percent of all hepatic fibrosis cases, and every year, 36,500 Americans die from this disease.

During the early stages of hepatic fibrosis, the symptoms are not very pronounced. But as the scar tissues accumulate, the ability of the liver to function properly is hampered. The following signs and symptoms may manifest when this happens:

  • Blood capillaries in the body become visible on the skin and the upper part of the abdomen
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of body weight
  • Nausea
  • Tenderness and pain in the liver area
  • Blotchy or red palms

The staff at GI North would like you to know that hepatic fibrosis can affect the absorption of food in the body. On the other hand, your diet may influence your appetite, weight, and amounts of vitamins in your body. For this reason, a dietetic change is often recommended for anybody suffering from this disease. In addition, your doctor may recommend a lifestyle change depending on how well your liver is working.

Tips for Managing Liver Cirrhosis

The following tips will guide you in improving the quality of your life, and also to prevent further damage to your liver.

1. Don’t drink alcohol

Whether your hepatic fibrosis was caused by chronic consumption of alcohol or another disease, avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol will damage your liver further, making your condition more hopeless.

2. Eat less sodium in your diet

Excess salt is likely to make your body retain fluids. This in turn worsens the swelling of your legs and abdomen. Instead, use herbs to season your food. And if you eat already prepared foods, choose the ones with low sodium.

3. Eat a balanced diet

Individuals suffering from hepatic fibrosis can get malnourished. You can fight this situation with a healthy plant-based diet that contains a variety of vegetables and fruits. You also need to eat lean proteins such as poultry, fish or legumes, and to incorporate whole grains into your diet. In addition, avoid raw seafood.

4. Avoid getting infected

Hepatic fibrosis makes it difficult for your body to fight off infections. Thus, protect yourself by avoiding sick people, and wash your hands with soap frequently. Furthermore, you need to be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, pneumonia, and influenza.

5. Be careful when using over-the-counter medications

When you are suffering from hepatic fibrosis, it becomes more difficult for your liver to process drugs. Thus, ask for your doctor’s advice before taking any medications including non-prescription drugs. Avoid drugs such as aspirin, Advil and Motrin. Your doctor may also recommend that you avoid acetaminophen, or that you take it in small doses to relieve pain.

Liver cirrhosis is a chronic, incurable health condition that should not be neglected. If you notice any symptoms of the disease, seek professional help from the GI North. Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano serve the residents of Cumming, Ga area as well as the surrounding areas such as Alpharetta, Canton, Roswell, and Suwanee. In addition, Dr. Quijano speaks fluent Spanish, which is an added advantage for the Spanish speaking people in these areas.

© 2015 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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