What are the early symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver?

What are the early symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver?

The liver is a silent organ that normally does not hurt. However, liver cirrhosis, when it progresses, causes symptoms that should lead to consultation. Stomach hurts? Is the belly swollen?

Liver cirrhosis can progress silently or present mild and unremarkable symptoms when it is in the “compensated cirrhosis” stage. The “first” symptoms of cirrhosis appear when it progresses towards decompensation (decompensated cirrhosis). He is no longer in the beginner stage.

1. A bloated belly

In the case of cirrhosis, the liver is much more stringy and tough. And the fact that the liver hardens can develop asciteswhich is fluid that can collect in the peritoneum (belly)“, explains Dr. Christophe Hézode, gastroenterologist and hepatologist. This is due to what is called a portal hypertensioncorresponding to increased blood pressure in the portal vein, mainly caused by the hardness of the liver that slows down the passage of blood in the liver. “Specifically, the belly swells, with fluid inside. And that is one of the first manifestations of cirrhosis.“, he continues.

2. Esophageal varices

Another manifestation of cirrhosis: varicose veins that are not in the legs but in the esophagus (esophageal varices). “Because the liver is hard, blood has difficulty passing through it and therefore takes bypass routes (another path), which creates varicose veins in the esophagus. And these varicose veins can burst from time to time (ruptured esophageal varices)which can cause gastrointestinal bleedingsays our expert. The person vomits blood or has black stools.

Evolution of liver inflammation to cirrhosis
Evolution of liver inflammation to cirrhosis © nmfotograf – stock.adobe.com

3. jaundice

Since there are fewer functioning liver cells in cirrhosis, the liver functions less well. And a liver that doesn’t work as well can lead to jaundice (jaundice in medical parlance).“, warns Dr. Hézode. Jaundice is characterized by yellow skin, discoloration of the white of the eye in yellow or even dark urine.

4. A loss of concentration

The liver is a kind of factory that will detoxify the body of all the bad substances. But when it works worse and fails to metabolize so-called neurotoxic substances (in other words, toxic to the brain), there is a risk ofhepatic encephalopathy.The person is sleepy, has trouble concentrating, is confused (act of “answering to the side” or doing inappropriate things). Encephalopathy can, in extreme cases, lead to coma“.

“Cirrhosis can be asymptomatic, when it is not complicated or decompensated”

5. Sudden weight loss

Sudden weight loss and sudden loss of appetite can be a sign of liver dysfunction, such as cirrhosis.

6. Severe fatigue

And finally, like almost all liver diseases, cirrhosis causes significant fatigue. But fatigue is a symptom common to many pathologies, so it is not specifically suggestive of liver cirrhosis.

Does cirrhosis hurt the stomach?

the liver is a silent organ which usually doesn’t hurt. Indeed, “the liver is an organ that is not innervated, it does not have nerve endings, responsible for the sensation of pain“, makes sure to specify our interlocutor. Ascites can give the sensation of swelling, and can be painful during the first episodes due to the distention of the skin. When ascites is chronic or small, there is no real pain.

Can cirrhosis be asymptomatic?

Yes.Cirrhosis can be asymptomatic, when it does not present complications or is decompensated. The liver may simply be slightly harder and larger on palpation or Fibroscan. The symptoms will come at the time of decompensation and complications“, concludes our interlocutor.

Thanks to Dr. Christophe Hézode, Medical Director of Hepatology at Gilead’s Department of International Medical Affairs and former Head of the Department of Hepatology at Henri Mondor Hospital and Professor of Hepatology at Paris-Est Créteil University.

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