Alcoholic Hepatitis: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Digestive system

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.

Alcoholic hepatitis can lead to permanent scarring in the liver. This scarring is called cirrhosis. If you stop drinking, your liver function may improve. 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 call line 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 call 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 are confused or are having a hard time thinking.
  • You are very sleepy or cannot stay awake.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • You pass maroon or very bloody stools.

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

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have belly pain or swelling.
  • You vomit or have severe nausea.
  • You have new bruises or blood spots under your skin.
  • Your stools are black and look like tar, or have streaks of blood.

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

  • You have a nosebleed.
  • Your gums bleed when you brush your teeth.
  • Your skin itches, or itching gets worse.
  • You are not able to eat well and are losing weight.
  • You feel more tired than usual.
  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow, or yellowness increases.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Current as of: March 3, 2017