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FAQ: If you have cirrhosis, are there any medications you need to avoid?

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If you have cirrhosis, are there any medications you need to avoid?

If you have cirrhosis without any complications, it is important to be cautious when using medications that can cause liver failure.

You need to be even more careful if you have cirrhosis and have complications, such as ascites (fluid in the belly) or jaundice (yellowing of eyes or skin) or encephalopathy (confusion).

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is considered safe in limited doses (a maximum of 2,000 mg, or 2 grams, every 24 hours).

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs--such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, piroxicam--can cause reduced kidney function. Do not take these without first consulting your doctor.

There are many other medications with potential for causing liver injury in any patient. But patients who already have cirrhosis should be particularly cautious when starting to use them. These medications include certain antibiotics, high blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, hormones, and antiretrovirals. Before taking any new medication--whether prescription or over-the-counter or herbal--discuss it with your health care provider.

Of course, the most important substance to avoid when you have cirrhosis is alcohol.