The Warning Signs of Cirrhosis: What to Look Out For?

Cirrhosis is a disease of the liver characterized by severe scarring. When your liver suffers damage, it will try to heal itself, leaving a scar. Continuous scarring can completely damage your liver.

If you’re diagnosed with cirrhosis, you’re in an advanced stage of liver damage that can be fatal without liver transplantation. At this point, it may not be possible to reverse cirrhosis, but the disease can be reversed when caught early.

The causes of liver cirrhosis are many. Excessive alcohol consumption and prolonged drug abuse are common causes. Many other conditions, like hepatitis and hemochromatosis, can also cause cirrhosis.

It’s difficult to detect cirrhosis in its early stages because the symptoms become obvious when the disease has advanced. 

The Warning Signs of Cirrhosis: What to Look Out For?
The Warning Signs of Cirrhosis: What to Look Out For?

Still, liver damage presents certain warning signs that may not appear serious, but if you pay close attention to them, you can catch the disease before it progresses into cirrhosis.

Let’s highlight some of the warning signs to look out for.

1. Jaundice

Jaundice is the yellowing of the eyes and skin, which occurs when there’s a buildup of bilirubin in the blood or when the liver has difficulty processing red blood cells when they break down.

If you have jaundice, you may want to get checked out because the condition can be an indication of liver disease or infection.

2. Loss of Appetite

The liver is responsible for many functions, and when it starts to lose some of its ability due to damage, you may experience a loss of appetite.

While the loss of appetite can have many reasons, it’s not something to ignore, especially when accompanied by fatigue or any of the other symptoms we will mention.

If your lack of appetite doesn’t seem to have a clear cause, you may want to get a liver function test just to be sure.

3. Unexplained Weight Loss

You can lose weight rapidly for various reasons, including stress and depression. The reason for weight loss can be as simple as prolonged anxiety resulting in increased metabolism, or it may signal a serious health problem like liver damage.

What you need to observe is the kind of weight loss you can’t explain. You may be eating right and don’t suffer from health issues that can cause weight loss, but somehow, you’re still losing weight.

4. Spider Nevus

A spider nevus or angioma is a red blot under the skin with extended streaks giving it the appearance of a spider. These vascular lesions are formed by a group of capillaries under the skin.

Spider angiomas can be benign as they indicate increased estrogen levels in the blood. In pregnant women, angiomas are common due to the spike in estrogen levels.

However, spider angiomas outside pregnant women and women on hormonal contraception could indicate liver damage. Considering angiomas are common in patients with cirrhosis, you may want to pay attention to them.

5. Bruising

If you bruise and bleed easily, you may want to get your liver checked, as it can be a sign of liver disease. A damaged liver has difficulties producing the proteins responsible for blood clotting.

When that happens, you find that small cuts and bruises result in excess bleeding.

Bruising and bleeding easily may not necessarily indicate an issue with your liver. However, it’s not a sign to dismiss as it sometimes indicates a serious health problem.

6. Dark urine

Too much bilirubin in the blood is not a good sign because it could have something to do with your liver. You may be able to tell if bilirubin buildup in your body is high through the color of your urine.

Reddish black, dark orange, or brown urine can indicate bilirubin buildup. If you notice that, you should get your liver checked, just in case.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the last thing you want is for your liver to progress into cirrhosis with or without your knowledge. It’s important to stay vigilant of your liver health, especially if you belong to a high-risk group like having diabetes or being a heavy drinker.

Currently, there is no cure for cirrhosis, but with lifestyle changes and medication, the condition can be managed before it reaches a point where a transplant is the only option. 

For managing pain and other symptoms, alternative therapies may help. Veriheal provides more info on the role phytocannabinoids play in cirrhosis management.