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Cirrhosis - Symptoms

People who have cirrhosis sometimes don't have symptoms until liver damage is extensive. Symptoms of cirrhosis and its complications may include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice).
  • Itching.
  • Swelling from fluid buildup in the legs (edema).
  • Bruising easily and having heavy nosebleeds.
  • Redness of the palms.
  • Small red spots and tiny lines on the skin called spider angiomas.
  • Weight loss and muscle wasting.
  • Belly pain or discomfort.
  • Frequent infections.
  • Confusion.

Complications of cirrhosis

Scar tissue from cirrhosis may block the proper flow of blood from the intestines through the liver. The scarring can lead to increased pressure in the veins that supply this area. This is called portal hypertension. It can lead to other complications, which may include:

  • Fluid buildup in the belly (ascites).
  • Bleeding from enlarged veins (varices) in the digestive tract. This is called variceal bleeding.
  • Increased spleen size. This can lead to a low blood platelet count.
  • Infection of the fluid in the belly (spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, or SBP).
  • Altered brain function (encephalopathy). This usually only occurs in people who have advanced portal hypertension.
  • Hepatorenal syndrome. Kidney (renal) failure can occur in cases of advanced liver disease.
  • Hepatopulmonary syndrome. Portal hypertension can cause lung problems, such as widening of the blood vessels in the lungs. This causes the blood to move too swiftly through the lungs to pick up enough oxygen.
  • Hepatic hydrothorax. Fluid can build up between the lungs and the chest (pleural effusion camera.gif) and press on the lungs.

People who have cirrhosis also are at increased risk of getting liver cancer, mainly hepatocellular carcinoma.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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