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Cirrhosis Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms

Cirrhosis often causes no symptoms early in the disease process. Symptoms start when the liver begins to fail, as scar tissue replaces healthy cells. Symptom severity depends on the extent of liver damage.

Early symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Abdominal swelling, tenderness, and pain
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Enlarged breasts in men

Later symptoms, some due to complications, include:

  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes ( jaundice )
  • Reddened palms
  • Loss of body hair
  • Shrunken testicles
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Appearance of thin, purplish-red, spidery looking blood vessels on the skin, especially around the navel
  • Dark urine
  • Water retention and swelling in the legs and abdomen
  • Bleeding and bruising
  • Vomiting blood
  • Itching
  • Menstrual problems
  • Abdominal infections
  • Impotence
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Coma
  • Inability to fully process drugs
  • Enlarged, twisted, thin-walled blood vessels called varices that bleed easily and sometimes catastrophically (usually located in the esophagus)
  • Liver cancer
  • Osteoporosis
  • Gallstones
  • Arrhythmias
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Ulcers
  • Breathing problems
  • Insulin resistance

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

Tests may include:

Blood tests—to assess how well the liver is working and determine a cause

CT scan , ultrasound , or liver/spleen scan—to identify changes in the liver

Liver biopsy —analyzing a sample of liver tissue removed via a thin needle inserted through the abdomen and into the liver

Laparoscopy —looking at the liver via a thin tube with a lighted tip inserted through a small incision near the belly button

Other tests may include:

  • Inserting a catheter into the liver vein and measuring the pressure within that vein (this is rarely necessary)
  • Removing fluid from the abdomen and examining it
  • Other tests to determine what has caused the cirrhosis and what complications may occur

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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