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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Liver Disease: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Digestive System

Liver Disease

Liver Disease | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

Treatment for liver disease will include:

  • bed rest
  • drinking extra fluids to prevent dehydration
  • avoiding unnecessary medications
  • avoiding alcohol
  • eating a well balanced diet for liver disease
  • taking antinausea medications as needed
  • Further treatment will depend on the type and the extent of disease. For example, treating hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and hepatitis D may involve the use of medications such as the antiviral medication alpha interferon. Other medications used to treat liver disease may include ribavirin, lamivudine, steroids, and antibiotics.

    To treat Wilson's disease, the healthcare provider may prescribe trientine or penicillamine. If these medications cannot be tolerated, the person may be asked to take zinc acetate.

    Hemochromatosis is treated by removing a pint of blood once a week for 1 to 2 years. This will effectively deplete the excess iron.

    Vitamin and mineral supplements are given to prevent complications from primary biliary cirrhosis. These include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and calcium. Cholestyramine may be given to help relieve itching.

    Biliary atresia may be treated with a procedure called the Kasai surgery, a procedure in which the surgeon replaces the bile ducts with part of the baby's intestine.

    Acute fulminant hepatitis can cause life-threatening liver failure. This requires a hospital stay and treatment for the bleeding disorder, encephalopathy, and nutritional problems. Sometimes, the only effective treatment for certain liver diseases is a liver transplant.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Side effects will depend on the treatments used for the liver disease. Antibiotics may cause stomach upset or allergic reactions. Side effects of interferon include a flu-like illness, with fever, and body aches. A liver transplant can cause many problems, including failure or rejection of the new liver. After a liver transplant, a person will need to take powerful antirejection medications for the rest of his or her life. Side effects of these medications increase the person's risk for infections, certain cancers, and other problems.

    What happens after treatment for the disease?

    What occurs after treatment will depend on the type of liver disease and the response to treatment. For example, people with hepatitis A will not usually need medication after the disease has been resolved. They can return to a normal lifestyle when symptoms are gone, even if they still have some jaundice. A person with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or hepatitis D will be monitored for side effects and benefits during and after interferon treatment. Alpha interferon treatment might be repeated if the disease flares up again. A person who has received a liver transplant is checked for further disease, as well as for function of the new liver.

    How is the disease monitored?

    Monitoring will depend on the type of liver disease. Periodic visits to the healthcare provider and liver function tests may be used to monitor the disease and to see how the liver is working. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider. The status of the liver may require repeated liver biopsies. Decisions for further treatment or liver transplantation are frequently made based on these tests.

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    Liver Disease: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Barbara Mallari, RN, BSN, PHN
    Date Reviewed: 07/13/01

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