Lifestyle and home remedies
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 You also need protein, contrary to outdated but still circulating advice to limit this food group if you have cirrhosis.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
- Sanchez W, et al. Liver cirrhosis. The American College of Gastroenterology. http://patients.gi.org/topics/liver-cirrhosis. Accessed Dec. 26, 2015.
- Ferri FF. Cirrhosis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 26, 2015.
- Cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/liver-disease/cirrhosis/Pages/facts.aspx. Accessed Dec. 27, 2015.
- Boyer TD, et al., eds. Hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis. In: Zakim & Boyer's Hepatology: A Textbook of Liver Disease. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 26, 2015.
- Tsochatzis EA, et al. Liver cirrhosis. The Lancet. 2014; 383:1749.
- Feldman M, et al. Overview of Cirrhosis. In: Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 8, 2015.
- Singal AK, et al. Model for end-stage liver disease. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology. 2013;3:50.
- Toshikuni N, et al. Nutrition and exercise in the management of liver cirrhosis. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014;20:7286.
- Cook AJ. AllScripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 22, 2015.
- Goldberg E, et al. Cirrhosis in adults: Etiologies, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 27, 2015.
- De Robertis R, et al. Noninvasive diagnosis of cirrhosis: A review of different imaging modalities. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014;20:7231.
- Czaja AJ. Hepatic inflammation and progressive liver fibrosis in chronic liver disease. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014;20:2515.
- Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). American Liver Foundation. http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/pbc/. Accessed Dec. 27, 2015.
- Liver transplant. American Liver Foundation. http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/transplant/. Accessed Dec. 27, 2015.
- Rakel D. Chronic hepatitis. In: Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
- Hepatitis C: A focus on dietary supplements. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/hepatitisc/hepatitiscfacts.htm. Accessed Dec. 27, 2015.
- U.S. News best hospitals 2013-2014. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings/gastroenterology-and-gi-surgery. Accessed Dec. 27, 2015.
- Singh S, et al. Liver stiffness is associated with risk of decompensation, liver cancer, and death in patients with chronic liver diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2013;11:1573.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. Jan. 10, 2016.
- Keaveny AP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. March 15, 2016.