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Symptoms

Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver caused by long-term liver damage.

Cirrhosis may not have any early symptoms. Later symptoms can include feeling sick and tired, yellowing of the skin, itchy skin and a swollen tummy.

Treatment for cirrhosis usually involves treating the cause to stop it getting worse. Some people eventually need a liver transplant.

The main causes of cirrhosis are drinking too much alcohol over many years, long-lasting liver infections like hepatitis C and being overweight.

To reduce your risk of cirrhosis, cut down on alcohol, keep a healthy weight and avoid hepatitis by using a condom during sex and not injecting drugs.

Read more on the NHS website.

Cirrhosis may not have any early symptoms. Later symptoms can include feeling sick and tired, yellowing of the skin, itchy skin and a swollen tummy.

Symptoms of cirrhosis

You may not have any symptoms during the early stages of cirrhosis. As your liver becomes more damaged, you may:

As the condition gets worse, further symptoms can include:

See your GP if you think you may have cirrhosis.

Read more on the NHS website.

Treatment for cirrhosis usually involves treating the cause to stop it getting worse. Some people eventually need a liver transplant.

Medical treatments

There's currently no cure for cirrhosis. But it's possible to manage the symptoms and any complications, and slow its progression.

Treating the underlying cause, such as using anti-viral medication to treat a hepatitis C infection, can also stop cirrhosis getting worse.

You may be advised to cut down on or stop drinking alcohol, or lose weight if you're overweight. A wide range of alcohol support services are available.

If your liver is severely scarred, it can stop functioning. In this case, a liver transplant is the only treatment option.

Self-care

Making healthy lifestyle changes can help stop cirrhosis getting worse. It can also reduce your risk of developing further health problems.

Lifestyle changes

There are a number of things you can do to help stay healthy and reduce your chances of developing further problems:

  • avoid alcohol if your liver problems are alcohol-related
  • lose weight if you're overweight or obese
  • take regular exercise to reduce muscle wasting
  • practise good hygiene to reduce your chances of developing infections
  • speak to your GP about vaccinations you may need, such as the annual flu vaccine or travel vaccines
  • speak to your GP or pharmacist if you're taking over-the-counter or prescription medications, as cirrhosis can affect the way some medicines work

Dietary changes

Malnutrition is common in people with cirrhosis, so it's important you have a balanced diet to help you get all the nutrients you need.

Cutting down on salt can help reduce your risk of developing swelling in your legs, feet and tummy caused by a build-up of fluid.

The damage to your liver can also mean it's unable to store glycogen, which provides short-term energy.

When this happens, the body uses its own muscle tissue to provide energy between meals, which leads to muscle wasting and weakness. This means you may need extra calories and protein in your diet.

Healthy snacking between meals can top up your calories and protein. It may also be helpful to eat 3 or 4 small meals a day, rather than 1 or 2 large meals.

Read more on the NHS website.

To reduce your risk of cirrhosis, cut down on alcohol, keep a healthy weight and avoid hepatitis by using a condom during sex and not injecting drugs.

Read more on the NHS website.

The main causes of cirrhosis are drinking too much alcohol over many years, long-lasting liver infections like hepatitis C and being overweight.

Read more on the NHS website.