There is no cure for cirrhosis because the liver damage that had occurred already cannot be reversed. Treatment aims to improve the symptoms, manage complications and prevent the condition from getting worse. Treatment is also influenced by the underlying cause.
Preventing worsening of cirrhosis: Some ways in which worsening of cirrhosis can be prevented include:
Some treatments that can improve symptoms of cirrhosis include:
Treatment of complications
Swollen varices: Veins at the lower end of oesophagus (food pipe) swell and enlarge. They may bleed and cause blood in vomiting or blood in faeces. Endoscopy can show varices. If you experience bleeding from varices, urgent medical attention is needed. Your doctor will try to stop the bleeding by certain procedures, such as banding of the varices, injection sclerotherapy (a chemical is injected into the varices to make the blood clot and form scar tissue; this helps to stop the bleeding), balloon inflation (inflation of balloon in Sengstaken tube puts pressure on the varices and stops the bleeding) and transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunt (TIPSS).
Fluid in the abdomen and legs: Treatment to reduce ascites (a build-up of fluid around the abdomen) and edema (fluid around your legs and ankles) includes restriction of sodium (salt) in diet and taking diuretic (water tablets), such as spironolactone or furosemide. If the ascites is severe, tubes may be inserted in the abdomen to drain the fluid.
Encephalopathy: Cirrhosis can affect the function of the brain because of accumulation of toxins and waste products in the blood. Encephalopathy (impaired brain’s functioning) can cause confusion, drowsiness, altered consciousness and coma. Treatment of encephalopathy includes reducing protein intake and antibiotics to remove toxin producing bacteria and waste from the gut by laxatives or enemas.
Bleeding: Tendency to bleed and bruise easily is increased in cirrhosis as the liver cannot make enough proteins needed to clot blood. Treatment for increased risk of bleeding or if bleeding occurs includes Vitamin K injection and plasma.
Liver transplant: In cases of severe liver damage, liver transplant may be needed. In this procedure, the diseased liver is removed by surgery and replaced with a healthy donor liver.
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