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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.

General Tips for Gathering Information

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.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Your Risk of Developing Cirrhosis

  • 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 medication that puts me at higher risk for developing cirrhosis?
  • How do I best prevent cirrhosis?
  • How do I know if I have cirrhosis?

About Treatment Options

  • What is my best treatment option?
  • What medications are available to help me?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?
    • Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
  • Are the medications 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?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • 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?

About Your Outlook

  • 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?
  • Can the medications I get after liver transplants can harm?
  • What is my one-year outlook? Five-year?
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References:

Cirrhosis of the liver. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated January 12, 2017. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Tips for talking to your doctor. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated May 2014. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015

 

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