• Reducing Your Risk of Cirrhosis

    You can take several steps to reduce your risk of developing cirrhosis.

    Abstain from Alcohol

    Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of cirrhosis in the US. Not all people who abuse alcohol develop cirrhosis, though.
    However, your chance of developing alcohol-related cirrhosis increases with:
    • The more you drink at each episode
    • If you drink a variety of alcoholic beverages
    • If you drink frequently
    Having a poor-quality diet when you drink alcohol may also increase your susceptibility to alcohol-related cirrhosis. Eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding routine alcohol abuse or abstaining from alcohol entirely can reduce your risk of developing cirrhosis.

    Abstain from Tobacco

    Our liver is the target of many cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco. It is known that people with cirrhosis are at an increased risk of developing liver cancer which is increased with smoking. Smoking also causes lung disease. This can lead to low oxygen levels in the body. People with low body oxygen have an increased risk of dying after a liver transplant.

    Reduce Your Risk of Contracting Hepatitis

    Practice Safe Sex
    Hepatitis B and possibly C can be transmitted sexually. To reduce your risk of infection, practice safe sex. This means that men should always use a condom during sexual activity and intercourse. If you are a woman, you should require your partner to use a condom even if you are using birth control pills.
    Do Not Share Needles
    Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through blood products and through use of contaminated needles and syringes. Avoid using illegal intravenous drugs (IV). If you do use these drugs, do not share needles or syringes with anyone.
    Get Vaccinated Against Hepatitis B
    Ask your doctor if you should get vaccinated against hepatitis B.

    Ask About Medications

    Certain prescription medicines can have toxic effects on the liver (such as, acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that vary from person to person. If you are taking these medications, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Be sure to have any recommended tests prior to starting the medication and throughout the course of treatment. These tests can help determine whether the drug is damaging your liver.

    Screen for Genetic Disease

    Once you know that you have a genetic cause of your liver disease, ask you doctor to screen your immediate family.

    Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Obesity is a major cause of liver disease. Eating a healthy diet and getting appropriate exercise are two important steps anyone can take that will reduce the risk for chronic liver disease.

    References

    American Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org. Accessed March 8, 2006.

    Mehta G, Rothstein KD. Health Maintenance Issues in Cirrhosis. Med Clin N Am. 2009;93:901-915.

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov. Accessed March 7, 2006.

    National Library of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed March 8, 2006.

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