Monday, November 30, 2009

Symptoms and Complications of Cirrhosis

In my previous update we have learned about Cirrhosis and its causes. Today let us try to understand the symptoms and complications of Liver Cirrhosis in detail. I have added a few videos at the end of this article for better understanding.

What are the symptoms of cirrhosis?

Many people with cirrhosis have no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. However, as the disease progresses, a person may experience the following symptoms:

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • weight loss
  • abdominal pain and bloating when fluid accumulates in the abdomen
  • itching
  • spiderlike blood vessels on the skin

What are the complications of cirrhosis?

As liver function deteriorates, one or more complications may develop. In some people, complications may be the first signs of the disease.

Edema and ascites:

When liver damage progresses to an advanced stage, fluid collects in the legs, called edema, and in the abdomen, called ascites. Ascites can lead to bacterial peritonitis, a serious infection.

Bruising and bleeding:

When the liver slows or stops producing the proteins needed for blood clotting, a person will bruise or bleed easily.

Portal hypertension:

Normally, blood from the intestines and spleen is carried to the liver through the portal vein. But cirrhosis slows the normal flow of blood, which increases the pressure in the portal vein. This condition is called portal hypertension.

Esophageal varices and gastropathy:

When portal hypertension occurs, it may cause enlarged blood vessels in the esophagus, called varices, or in the stomach, called gastropathy, or both. Enlarged blood vessels are more likely to burst due to thin walls and increased pressure. If they burst, serious bleeding can occur in the esophagus or upper stomach, requiring immediate medical attention.


When portal hypertension occurs, the spleen frequently enlarges and holds white blood cells and platelets, reducing the numbers of these cells in the blood. A low platelet count may be the first evidence that a person has developed cirrhosis.


Jaundice occurs when the diseased liver does not remove enough bilirubin from the blood, causing yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes and darkening of the urine. Bilirubin is the pigment that gives bile its reddish-yellow color.


If cirrhosis prevents bile from flowing freely to and from the gallbladder, the bile hardens as gallstones.

Sensitivity to medications:

Cirrhosis slows the liver’s ability to filter medications from the blood. When this occurs, medications act longer than expected and build up in the body. This causes a person to be more sensitive to medications and their side effects.

Hepatic encephalopathy:

A failing liver cannot remove toxins from the blood, and they eventually accumulate in the brain. The buildup of toxins in the brain—called hepatic encephalopathy—can decrease mental function and cause coma. Signs of decreased mental function include confusion, personality changes, memory loss, trouble concentrating, and a change in sleep habits.

Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes:

Cirrhosis causes resistance to insulin—a hormone produced by the pancreas that enables the body to use glucose as energy. With insulin resistance, the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin properly. The pancreas tries to keep up with the demand for insulin by producing more, but excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream causing type II diabetes.

Liver cancer:

Hepatocellular carcinoma is a type of liver cancer that can occur in people with cirrhosis. Hepatocellular carcinoma has a high mortality rate, but several treatment options are available.

Other problems:

Cirrhosis can cause immune system dysfunction, leading to the risk of infection. Cirrhosis can also cause kidney and lung failure, known as hepatorenal and hepatopulmonary syndromes.

I hope you find this information useful. Do send in your feed back.




  1. I did find this very very very useful. Thanks! I do have a question, how long will a person live, if transplant is not possible? Is it true that the liquid in the stomach has to be taken out weekly by a doctor? If so, how long will a person live if they are in this stage?

  2. As said earlier in the blog, the Liver is a non-complaining organ. It is though not possible to avoid death if Cirrhosis is in chronic stage but you can prolong your life span to a great extent by eating good food
    that doesn't strain your liver like fruits and raw vegetables etc. Fatty Liver, Liver Cirrhosis, Hepatitis and Liver Cancer might result in midriff water retention which is also known as ascites. Ascites results in the accumulation of fluids in the body cavities and tissues. In cases of midriff water retention the fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity making it difficult to breathe and performing normal daily activities. Therefore, it is required to be taken out frequently and the frequency depends upon the condition of the patient. Following a natural food along with some the yog asanas and pranayamas one can survive longer. However, the longevity differs person to person based on the genetic and environmental conditions.

  3. Thanks for your valuable post.

    I am already effected by Hepatitis B virus since 2001. Have any treatment for Hepatitis B virus already positive.

  4. Follow the instructions mentioned in the below mentioned link and I hope it will help your cause to a great extent. Apart from that avoid alcohol if any, avoid all kinds of animal products and bi-products, drink lot of water, eat fresh vegetables and fruits and include more fruit juices in your diet. Always remember the health is absolutely in your hands. You spoiled it and you can recover it as well. Wish you all the best.

  5. I am trying to understand if there's any natural way of removing gal stones?

  6. Drink soaked horse gram water early in the morning and take acupressure treatment.


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