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Alcoholic Hepatitis: Care Instructions

Location of liver in upper right abdomen.


Alcoholic hepatitis is damage to the liver. It is caused by long-term heavy drinking. The liver gets inflamed and swollen and can't remove waste products from the body.

This condition can lead to permanent scarring in the liver. This scarring is called cirrhosis. If drinking is stopped before the liver is severely damaged, your liver may get better. You may have to make changes in your diet and adjust your medicines.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can damage the liver. Tell your doctor if you need help to quit. Counselling, support groups, and sometimes medicines can help you stay sober.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Do not take any over-the-counter medicines, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and acetaminophen (Tylenol), unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Make sure your doctor knows all of the medicines and natural health products you take.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about your diet. Make an appointment with a dietitian if you need help choosing the right foods.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You feel very sleepy or confused.
  • You have a fever.
  • There is a new or increasing yellow tint to your skin or the whites of your eyes.
  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You have any abnormal bleeding, such as:
    • Nosebleeds.
    • Vaginal bleeding that is different (heavier, more frequent, at a different time of the month) than what you are used to.
    • Bloody or black stools, or rectal bleeding.
    • Bloody or pink urine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have any problems.
  • Your belly is getting bigger.
  • You are gaining weight.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.