Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

What Dietary Restrictions Are Beneficial In The Treatment Of Cirrhosis?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010 03:13 PM

Question: My son is 39 years old and was just diagnosed with severe cirrhosis of the liver. He is to be on a strict diet with super low salt and super low protein and keep the cholesterol as low as possible. My problem is finding any info on a special diet for this condition with such requirements. Do you know of any sites or any info on this subject?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

There are many forms of cirrhosis, most of which are best managed with a low protein diet to reduce the load on the liver.
Usually the cholesterol levels remain low since the liver remains a primary source for synthesis of cholesterol which is usually suppressed in cirrhosis.

Many patients have problems with sodium retention, hence the reduced salt intake advice.

The diet to follow is quite simple and not that difficult. I suggest you consult your physician for some dietary advice sheets, or ask for a referral to a dietician who can provide this for you.

Premature cirrhosis has been associated with alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency (which can be measured) which is a treatable condition and must be considered when cirrhosis is reviewed in an otherwise healthy young individual. A liver biopsy is often used to characterize and treat cirrhosis.

Much of the cirrhosis we see is related to hepatitis B or C virus exposure, or toxin exposure. This includes over exposure to alcohol, copper, iron excesses, as well as that seen with some autoimmune disorders, obesity, and diabetes. There are significant occupational exposures especially in dry cleaning industry workers who may be exposed to significant toxins such a carbon tetrachloride and other solvents known to be toxic to our liver.

An identifiable cause for his cirrhosis will be essential for correct and effective management of his cirrhosis, as well as to minimize his present and future complications.

At 39 years of age, your son is very young for these restrictions, and I would need more information about his condition and underlying diseases before being more specific. Gastroenterologists are the specialist of choice for investigation and management of cirrhosis after your primary-care doctor has initially evaluated you.

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