What Are the Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis?

Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver include jaundice, itching, fatigue and swelling in the legs, according to WebMD. Other symptoms include heavy nosebleeds; easy bruising; tiny lines or small red spots on the skin; muscle wasting; and weight loss. It can also cause confusion, frequent infections and discomfort or pain the belly.

Some people with cirrhosis of the liver experience no symptoms until the disease has progressed and caused extensive damage to the liver, explains WebMD. Once the disease progresses, additional complications often arise due to the scarring of tissue that interrupts normal blood flow to the liver, causing portal hypertension. Symptoms of portal hypertension include ascites, which is the buildup of fluid in the stomach, an increase in the size of the spleen and digestive tract bleeding.

Some people who develop portal hypertension due to cirrhosis in its late stages experience altered brain function and kidney failure, states WebMD. Fluid can also build up in the chest and lungs, pressing on the lungs and causing hepatic hydrothorax. The blood vessels in the lungs can widen, causing hepatopulmonary syndrome, which results in the blood moving too quickly through the lungs to get the oxygen the body needs. In addition, cirrhosis increases the likelihood of the development of cancer of the liver.

Treatment of liver cirrhosis is dependent on its direct cause and the extent of liver damage. For example, if the cause is hepatitis, then medication is necessary to control it. Similarly, troubling symptoms like ascites and leg edema must also be addressed in to treat cirrhosis effectively. When cirrhosis causes serious liver damage, surgery may be another treatment option.

If it is discovered early enough, liver cirrhosis is treatable, Mayo Clinic says. The treatment depends on the cause. People with liver cirrhosis should stop drinking alcohol. Weight loss can help with the accumulation of fat in the liver, and medications can help slow the progression of hepatitis and other liver diseases. More severe cases of liver cirrhosis require a liver transplant.