Common names include: DisulfiramNaltrexoneAcamprosate
These three drugs are FDA approved for the treatment of alcohol abuse. If you drink while on disulfiram, you will experience a negative reaction or hangover symptoms which are far worse than the usual hangover symptoms. These symptoms might include headache, nausea, confusion, and uneasiness. Naltrexone reduces the craving for alcohol. Acamprosate reduces both the physical and emotional distress associated with quitting drinking, such as less sweating, sleep disturbance, and anxiety.
Possible side effects include: DrowsinessErectile dysfunctionHeadacheMood changesPeripheral neuropathyPsychosisAbdominal crampsDermatitisInsomniaMuscle painRashVomitingDiarrheaIntense itching
Examples of antiviral medications include: InterferonsProtease inhibitorsReverse transcriptase inhibitors
Chronic viral hepatitis B and C may respond to treatment with antiviral medications. These may include interferon for hepatitis B and C. A combination of interferon and ribavirin is used for hepatitis C.
For hepatitis C, combination therapy consistently yields higher rates of sustained response compared to treatment with just one drug. For example, interferon is given subcutaneously once every week. Ribavirin is an oral antiviral agent that is given twice a day. The US Food and Drug Administration is in the process of investigating several new hepatitis treatments. If you have any questions about them, call your doctor to discuss them.
Lamivudine, tenofivir, adefovir, entecavir, and telbivudine are used to treat hepatitis B infection. It is usually provided in an oral form that is taken once a day for a year or more. Sometimes these drugs are combined with interferon.
Possible side effects include: Abdominal or stomach pain (severe)Feeling of fullnessNauseaTingling, burning, numbness, or pain in the hands, arms, feet, or legsFlu-like symptoms, such as fever, body aches, and chills
Common names include: PrednisonePrednisone and
Some forms of hepatitis are caused by autoimmune reactions, in which the body’s own immune system attacks normal, healthy tissue. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications that also suppress immune responses. This helps reduce liver inflammation, which helps prevent cirrhosis from progressing. High doses of prednisone given long-term are associated with an increase in serious side effects. Lower doses of prednisone may be used when combined with azathioprine.
Possible side effects include: IndigestionGlucose intoleranceBone thinning
Common names include: PenicillamineTrientineDeferoxamine
Metal chelating agents are drugs that draw toxic metals from the bloodstream so that the body can pass them more effectively in urine or feces. Chelating agents are used to rid the body of excess copper in Wilsons disease or excess iron in hemochromatosis. Both of these rare inherited diseases can produce liver damage resulting in cirrhosis.
Penicillamine and trientine are used to treat Wilson's disease. Deferoxamine is used to treat iron overload associated with hemochromatosis. It is provided as an injection. Chelating agents are very powerful drugs that can have important, serious side effects. Be sure to report these to your healthcare provider.
Possible side effects associated with chelating agents include: FeverJoint painSkin rashBlurred vision or other problems with visionDifficulty breathing, wheezing, or rapid breathingFast heartbeatNausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Common names include: Phytonadione
Bleeding abnormalities are common in cirrhosis. Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting. Because your liver metabolizes this vitamin, liver diseases can affect vitamin K levels and its ability to function. This alters your clotting ability. Your doctor may prescribe vitamin K to help prevent excessive bleeding. The dose of these medications will be different for different people. Follow your doctor's orders. Do not change your dose unless your doctor tells you.
Possible side effects associated with vitamin K include: Flushing of the faceRedness, pain, or swelling at the site of injectionUnusual taste
Loop diuretics: BumetanideFurosemide
Thiazide diuretics: HydrochlorothiazideChlorothiazide
Potassium-sparing diuretics: AmilorideTriamterene
Diuretics are used to treat the buildup of excess fluid in the body that occurs with cirrhosis and other diseases. These drugs act on the kidneys to increase urine output. This reduces the amount of fluid in the bloodstream. This can help reduce portal vein hypertension and help alleviate some of the symptoms of cirrhosis, such as fluid accumulation in the abdomen and legs.
Possible side effects associated with diuretic use include: Loss of appetiteNausea and vomitingLightheadednessHeadacheLack of energyLow or high blood potassium levelLow sodium level
Common names include: Octreotide
Cirrhosis can lead to bleeding from the esophageal vessels. You may have to take medication to reduce the pressure in the vessels.
Possible side effects associated with the use of this drug include: Abdominal crampsNauseaVomitingDiarrheaSlow heart rateGreasy stoolsUpset stomach
Common names include: AtenololMetoprololNadololPropranololTimolol
In cirrhosis, these are used to reduce venous blood pressure in the abdomen (called portal hypertension). This reduces the risk of esophageal variceal bleeding and other complications. These drugs come in capsule, tablet, liquid, and injectable forms.
Possible side effects associated with beta-blocker use include: Drowsiness and lightheadednessCold sensitivitySleep disorders
Common names include: Beta-galactosidofructoseSenna
Laxatives are usually prescribed to treat constipation. However, they can help treat cirrhosis by absorbing or binding toxins, such as ammonia, in the intestine and removing them from the body. Not all laxatives are equally effective. Your doctor may be more likely to prescribe beta-galactosidofructose (Lactulose).
Possible side effects associated with laxative use include: DiarrheaAbdominal cramping, flatulence, and bloatingDehydration and weakness