PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Currently, no treatment can prevent the development of esophageal varices in people with cirrhosis. While beta blocker drugs are effective in preventing bleeding in many people who have esophageal varices, they do not keep esophageal varices from forming.
If you've been diagnosed with liver disease, ask your doctor about strategies to avoid liver disease complications. Some steps which may help keep your liver as healthy as possible include:
- Don't drink alcohol. People with liver disease are often advised to stop drinking alcohol, since alcohol is processed by the liver. Drinking alcohol may stress an already vulnerable liver.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choose a plant-based diet that's full of fruits and vegetables. Select whole grains and lean sources of protein. Reduce the amount of fatty and fried foods you eat.
- Maintain a healthy weight. An excess amount of body fat can damage your liver. Obesity is associated with a greater risk of complications of cirrhosis. Lose weight if you are obese or overweight.
- Use chemicals sparingly and carefully. Follow the directions on household chemicals, such as cleaning supplies and insect sprays. If you work around chemicals, follow all safety precautions. Your liver removes toxins from your body, so give it a break by limiting the amount of toxins it must process.
- Reduce your risk of hepatitis. Sharing needles and having unprotected sex can increase your risk of hepatitis B and C. Protect yourself by abstaining from sex or using a condom if you choose to have sex. Ask your doctor whether you should be vaccinated for hepatitis B and hepatitis A.
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed Sept. 12, 2010.
- Prevention and management of gastroesophageal varices and variceal hemorrhage in cirrhosis. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Documents/Bookmarked%20Practice%20Guidelines/Prevention%20and%20Management%20of%20Gastro%20Varices%20and%20Hemorrhage.pdf. Accessed Sept. 12, 2010.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. Http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=$eid&isbn=978-1-4557-0295-4&uniqId=398813857-1936. Accessed Jan. 22, 2013.
- Coelho-Prabhu N et al. Current staging and diagnosis of gastroesophageal varices. Clinical Liver Disease. 2010; 14: 195.
- AskMayoExpert. Esophageal varices. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- What I need to know about cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis_ez/#prevent. Accessed Jan. 29, 2013.
- Schistosomiasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/schistosomiasis/gen_info/faqs.html. Accessed Jan. 29, 2013.