If you have cirrhosis, be careful to limit additional liver damage:
- Don't drink alcohol. Whether your cirrhosis was caused by chronic alcohol use or another disease, avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol may cause further liver damage.
- Eat a low-sodium diet. Excess salt can cause your body to retain fluids, worsening swelling in your abdomen and legs. Use herbs for seasoning your food, rather than salt. Choose prepared foods that are low in sodium.
- Eat a healthy diet. Cirrhosis leads to malnutrition and loss of muscle. The best defense against this development is to maintain a healthy diet, with a variety of fruits and vegetables. You also need protein, contrary to outdated but still circulating advice to limit this food group if you have cirrhosis. Choose lean protein, such as legumes, poultry or fish. Avoid raw seafood.
- Avoid infections. Cirrhosis makes it more difficult for you to fight off infections. Protect yourself by washing your hands frequently. Also, get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B, influenza, and pneumonia.
- Use over-the-counter medications carefully. Cirrhosis makes it more difficult for your liver to process drugs. For this reason, ask your doctor before taking any medications, including nonprescription drugs. Avoid drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others). If you have liver damage, your doctor may recommend you use a lower dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).
Reduce your risk of cirrhosis by taking care of your liver
- Do not drink alcohol if you have cirrhosis. If you have liver disease but do not have cirrhosis, talk to your doctor about whether you may drink alcohol at all. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men over age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choose a plant-based diet that's full of fruits and vegetables. Select whole grains and lean sources of protein. Reduce the amount of fatty and fried foods you eat. Caffeinated coffee may protect against fibrosis and liver cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight. An excess amount of body fat can damage your liver. Talk to your doctor about a weight-loss plan if you are obese or overweight.
- Reduce your risk of hepatitis. Sharing needles and having unprotected sex can increase your risk of hepatitis B and C. Ask your doctor about hepatitis vaccinations.
If you're concerned about your risk of liver cirrhosis, talk to your doctor about ways you can reduce your risk.
Aug. 19, 2017
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