• Talking to Your Doctor About Cirrhosis

    You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with cirrhosis. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
    Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
    • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
    • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
    • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
    • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
    • What is cirrhosis?
    • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for cirrhosis?
    • How do I know if someone in my family had or has cirrhosis? (What physical signs or symptoms should I be looking for?)
    • Am I currently taking any medicine that puts me at higher risk for developing cirrhosis?
    • How do I best prevent cirrhosis?
    • How do I know if I have cirrhosis?
    • If I get pregnant, will my cirrhosis get worse?
    • What is my best treatment option?
    • What medicines are available to help me?
      • What are the benefits/side effects of these medicines?
      • Will these medicines interact with other medicines, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
    • Are the medicines I am taking for other conditions safe to take now that I have cirrhosis?
    • What surgical options other than transplant are there?
    • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that will help me?
    • Is it safe to drink any alcohol?
    • How much protein is enough?
    • Is any vitamin/mineral supplement adequate?
    • Should I reduce my salt intake?
    • Can you recommend a registered dietitian to help me with my diet?
    • If I have hepatitis, can I infect my family members?
    • Should my family receive the hepatitis B vaccine or the hepatitis A vaccine?
    • Do I need to practice safe sex with my marital partner? What risks are involved?
    • How do I know that my prevention or treatment program is effective?
    • Will you regularly monitor my liver enzymes?
    • Can you recommend a support group?
    • Will I need a liver transplant?
    • Is it true that the medicines I get after liver transplants can cause cancer?
    • What is my one-year outlook? Five-year?

    References

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

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

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