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This information will help you care for yourself and know what to watch for when you are at home.
Physical activity helps you keep and build muscle.
Ask your healthcare provider for advice about being active.
Healthy eating is important to help you manage weight, prevent other health problems, and keep your body strong.
Talk to your healthcare provider about how many calories and how much protein and other nutrients are right for you.
It’s important to know how to manage your condition and other health conditions caused by cirrhosis. These include fluid build-up, bleeding, and hepatic encephalopathy. Learn more about these conditions below.
Tracking your health information will help your doctor manage your condition.
Let your healthcare team know if you have:
Cirrhosis can cause fluid to build up in different areas of the body. This leads to swelling (also called edema).
If you’re being treated for a build-up of fluid, it’s important to weigh yourself each morning. Weigh yourself before breakfast, before you drink anything or take medicine, and after you pee (urinate).
Keep track of your weight each day in a notebook or app on your phone. Let your healthcare provider know if you:
Some of the treatments for fluid build-up include limiting salt, taking diuretic medicines (water pills), and draining fluid from your body (through a procedure called paracentesis or thoracentesis).
Your healthcare provider may have you do blood tests regularly, especially if you take diuretic medicines.
Cirrhosis can limit the amount of blood that flows into the liver. This can lead to a build-up of pressure in the vein that supplies blood to the liver (called the portal vein). This pressure can cause veins in the esophagus, stomach, and rectum to widen (enlarge). If this happens, you’re at risk of bleeding from these enlarged veins (called varices).
You may need to take blood pressure medicine to prevent bleeding from these veins. When you take blood pressure medicine, check your blood pressure and pulse 2 to 3 times a week. Rest for at least 5 minutes before you check these measurements.
Record your measurements in a notebook or app on your phone. Let your healthcare provider know if:
Check the colour of your bowel movements (stool) for signs of bleeding. If there’s blood in your stool, it may be black or look like tar.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you have an endoscopy to look for or treat any varices.
Cirrhosis can lead to a condition in the brain called hepatic encephalopathy. Hepatic encephalopathy can happen when the liver is damaged and can’t filter toxins from the blood. It can make you forgetful, confused, sleepy, or shaky. Your healthcare provider may prescribe lactulose (Comalose) or rifaximin (Zaxine) if you have hepatic encephalopathy.
If you take lactulose, record the number of bowel movements you have each day in a notebook or app on your phone. Take enough lactulose so you have 2 to 3 medium to large, soft bowel movements each day. Don’t take more than you need because it may make you dehydrated. But if you don’t take enough, you may feel confused.
If you’ve had hepatic encephalopathy, don’t take medicines that can make you sleepy. Let your healthcare provider know if you:
Contact your healthcare provider right away, go to the nearest emergency department, or have someone call 911 if you:
Find out more about these topics on MyHealth.Alberta.ca
Other places to go to find out more:
For addiction support and treatment services in your community, call Health Link at 811.
To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?Hwid=custom.ab_cirrhosis_inst_adult.
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: May 30, 2023
Author: Digestive Health SCN – Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.