What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cirrhosis?

Bhavna Singh   by Bhavna Singh, MS, Biotechnology    Last updated on September 27, 2019,

signs and symptoms of cirrhosis

Liver Cirrhosis Symptoms and Signs

The main function of liver is to purify the blood, break down toxins and clotting-protein production. Due to cirrhosis, when the liver is unable to perform these functions, symptoms are shown.

Often the symptoms are not too obvious until the disease advances. The symptoms are generally non-specific. Following are some common symptoms of cirrhosis:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding of nose
  • Jaundice (Yellow discoloration of eyes and skin)
  • Spider-shaped arteries (tiny red lines of blood capillaries on the skin above waist level)
  • Difficulty in maintaining weight and weight loss
  • Itching
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Bruising easily
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark, tarry-looking bowel
  • Breathing problems

More severe symptoms of liver cirrhosis (Signs of liver damage)

The symptoms mentioned above are generally taken lightly as they may overlap with other health problems. In early stages, the liver works normally despite the damage. However, as the disease advances, symptoms get severe and serious. These may include:

  • Abdominal swelling (Ascites) with stomach pain, or a swollen or bloated stomach
  • Swelling in legs (edema)
  • Fertility issues (Impotence)
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Gynecomastia (development of breast in males)
  • Testicular atrophy (or shrunken testicles) in males
  • Swollen scrotum in males
  • Abnormal periods in women
  • Confusion and drowsiness
  • Difficulty in thinking
  • Slurred Speech
  • Fever and shivering attacks
  • Personality changes
  • Memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma (severe cases without medical attention)
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stools are black and tarry
  • Panting
  • Darker urine
  • Walking problems
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Bleeding gums
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Difficulty in processing drugs

Symptoms, no matter how vague they are, should never be ignored. Severe liver damage can also lead to liver cancer or may be fatal to the person suffering from it. Timely diagnosis and immediate medical attention are required for it. Read about diagnosis of liver cirrhosis.

Liver Failure Symptoms: What are the symptoms and signs of liver failure caused by cirrhosis?

Liver failure occurs if the liver has lost its function completely due to cirrhosis caused. Common signs are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Fluid build up and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites)
  • Bruising and bleeding easily
  • Liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Enlarged veins in the lower esophagus and stomach
  • Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
  • Stones in gallbladder and bile duct (gallstones)

When to see a doctor

You should make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of the signs or symptoms listed above, even if these are initial and mild symptoms. Do not wait to get them worse and let the liver problem advance if at all it is due to a liver problem.

Bhavna Singh

Bhavna Singh is a biotechnologist with a special interest in molecular biology, genetic engineering, recombinant DNA technology, and biochemistry. She pursued her Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida. Bhavna has also worked as a Research Fellow at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi.

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