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Cirrhosis (cont.)

What Are Symptoms of Cirrhosis of the Liver?

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:

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 9/15/2017
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Cirrhosis (Liver, Symptoms, Stages, and Diet):

Cirrhosis of the Liver - Treatment

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Cirrhosis - Experience

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Cirrhosis - Causes

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Cirrhosis of The Liver - Symptoms

The symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

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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