If you have just found yourself on the receiving end of a diagnosis of cirrhosis, the chances are that you have several questions and worries about the matter at hand. This is entirely normal, and to be expected. A diagnosis of cirrhosis will change your life, but the important thing to remember is that provided you take action now, and recognise the seriousness of the condition, you can manage it and turn it around for a long time to come.
Your doctor will have explained to you what cirrhosis is, and probably given you a lot of reading material to take home. To simplify matters, cirrhosis is the medical terms of scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis is a condition which has taken years to build up, and can be due to several issues, including excessive alcohol intake over many years, a long-standing hepatitis issue, or it can also be down to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Whichever option has caused your cirrhosis, the important thing is the here and now.
The liver is a hardy organ, it can continue to work despite a severe amount of scarring, and when the right management options are put into place, it can even work to heal itself to a large degree.
It’s Good to Talk About Cirrhosis
The diagnosis you have received has sent your world into a spin, and that’s totally understandable. The emotions which come attached to a diagnosis such as this need to be spoken about, to get the out in the open, and to prevent a negative frame of mind from developing. It is okay to feel scared, it is okay to have many questions, and the best course of action is to speak to your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, to air your concerns, get reassurance, and to help you develop a positive, kick ass frame of mind.
Cirrhosis is not a death sentence, despite the worrying nature of the world. When we are told we have a complicated-sounded medical condition, the word along can be enough to cause anxiety and stress, but the important thing to remember is that provided you take the right steps to slow down any progression, then you are doing everything you can.
So, what are the treatment options available to you? Keep reading.
How to Manage Cirrhosis of the Liver
The important thing to remember is that there is no cure for cirrhosis, this is a condition you now have, and one which needs to be managed for the rest of your life. The main ways to do this really depend on the cause of your cirrhosis in the first place, i.e. excessive alcohol. If it was alcohol which caused your cirrhosis then you will be advised to stop your alcohol intake completely. Regardless of whether alcohol has been a factor in your diagnosis, lowering your intake dramatically is the number one step forward.
Alcohol is damaging to the whole body in many ways, but the liver really take the brunt of the damage. Over time, usually around 10 years of consumption to a high level, the liver becomes excessively scarred and cannot process alcohol within it, as it would otherwise do. Make the work easier on your liver, to help it start repairing itself, by cutting it out completely.
There is also the chance that a hepatitis, usually hep C, diagnosis has had some bearing on your diagnosis. If this is the case, you will be advised to take anti-viral medication to help treat the underlying cause of your cirrhosis diagnosis. This should be complied with, as per your doctor’s instructions.
If you have done any research on the Internet (proceed with caution), then you will have seen the word ‘transplant bandied’ about. Now, this is only in the most severe cases of cirrhosis, an at this stage you would know that you needed this course of action. A liver transplant is the last course of action, and there are countless options that come before it, so it is best to put that option to the back of your mind, to help you focus on the positives.
So, the main management options available to you now are:
- Stop, or at least drastically reduce, your alcohol intake immediately
- If you are advised to take antiviral medications, then do so as per instructions
- Live a healthy lifestyle, lose weight if you need to, and maintain a healthy weight otherwise. Check out this article on preventing cirrhosis of the liver
- Look at what you eat, and make sure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals – be kind to yourself!
- Try a low salt diet, as this will help your liver work more effectively, and take the pressure off whilst it is trying to right itself
- You may be advised to take blood pressure tablets if your readings are high
Treat Your Body Like a Temple
And that’s it! Nothing terrifying, nothing scary, simply moderate lifestyle changes that will give you an infinite amount of energy, and boost your overall health ten fold. Managing cirrhosis is about looking after yourself as if your body was a temple – which it is! If you have spent years upsetting your body, perhaps with too much alcohol over a long period of time, then it’s important to realize that you can’t turn back the clock. What is done is done. Now is the time to do what you can, and that means taking control of your health and not going back to your old ways.
We are in no way trying to belittle cirrhosis, because it is a serious condition, but you should treat it as a warning sign, a way of your body shouting at you to change. If you listen to your body, and if you make sure that you don’t veer off course, there is no reason you cannot reverse some of the damage, and slow down any further progression of your condition.
Unless extremely sever, cirrhosis is not a death sentence, it is a warning, a serious one which should be listened to immediately, and one which should take precedence in your mind and actions.