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Cirrhosis (cont.)

Cirrhosis Symptoms

Many people with cirrhosis have no symptoms during the early phases of the disease. Symptoms are caused by either of 2 problems:

  • Gradual failure of the liver to carry out its natural functions
  • Distortion of the liver's usual shape and size because of scarring

The most common symptoms of cirrhosis are as follows:

  • Tiredness (fatigue) or even exhaustion
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite leading to weight loss
  • Loss of sex drive

Symptoms may not appear until complications of cirrhosis set in. Many people do not know they have cirrhosis until they have a complication.

  • Jaundice - Yellowing of the skin and eyes from deposition of bilirubin in these tissues. Bilirubin is a product of the breakdown of old blood cells in the liver.
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Itching - From deposition in the skin of products of the breakdown of bile
  • Abdominal pain - From enlargement of the liver or formation of gallstones
  • Abdominal swelling or bloating - From fluid retention
  • Weight gain - From fluid retention
  • Swelling in ankles and legs (edema) - From fluid retention
  • Difficulty breathing - From fluid retention
  • Sensitivity to medications - Due to impairment of the liver's ability to filter medications from blood
  • Confusion, delirium, personality changes, or hallucinations (encephalopathy) - From buildup of drugs or toxins in the blood, which then affect the brain
  • Extreme sleepiness, difficulty awakening, or coma - Other symptoms of encephalopathy
  • Bleeding from gums or nose - Due to impaired production of clotting factors
  • Easy bruising - Due to impaired production of clotting factors
  • Blood in vomit or feces - Due to bleeding of varicose veins caused by liver congestion
  • Hemorrhoids - Varicose veins in rectum due to liver congestion
  • Loss of muscle mass (wasting)
  • In women, abnormal menstrual periods - Due to impairment in hormone production and metabolism
  • In men, enlargement of the breasts (gynecomastia), scrotal swelling, or small testes - Due to impairment in hormone production and metabolism
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/28/2014
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Cirrhosis:

Cirrhosis of The Liver - Symptoms

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Cirrhosis of the Liver - Treatment

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Cirrhosis »

Cirrhosis represents the final common histologic pathway for a wide variety of chronic liver diseases. The term cirrhosis was first introduced by Laennec in 1826.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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