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Early Signs of Cirrhosis

by
author image Maria Ledbetter
With a master's in journalism and nursing, Maria Ledbetter is an active writer with several online publications. She has contributed more than 700 articles to various magazines and newspapers around the world, including the "Tuscaloosa News."
Early Signs of Cirrhosis
Loss of appetite is one of the most common early signs of cirrhosis. Photo Credit Monkey Business Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Overview

Cirrhosis is a serious, sometimes fatal condition that attacks the liver. Scar tissue begins to replace the normal tissue of the liver, causing problems with blood flow. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, once cirrhosis is starting to affect the liver, the body will have a harder time controlling such normal bodily functions as producing proteins that allow blood clotting, bacteria removal, bile production and infection control. It is possible for the damages caused by cirrhosis to be reversed unless cirrhosis is in the final stage. Once end-stage cirrhosis has been reached, the final hope is a liver transplant.

Fatigue

The Mayo Clinic states that symptoms aren’t usually present for cirrhosis unless it has become serious. However, one of the earliest symptoms of cirrhosis is chronic fatigue. This is due to the fact that the liver plays a huge role in the digestive process. When food is consumed, it is then broken down and converted to energy. A healthy liver produces enzymes that help break this food down. When the liver is damaged and not functioning properly, the food that is eaten isn’t properly broken down for energy.

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Clotting Problems

The liver also produces proteins that aid in the clotting of the blood. When this function is damaged, it can become hard for the blood to clot if any type of open wound occurs. This can become a life-threatening condition in itself. Coagulopathy may be treated with blood products, or vitamin K, states Medline Plus.

Easy Bruising

Cirrhosis can also cause the blood to become too thin as a result of liver’s underproduction of proteins vital for blood thickening and clotting. When the blood is too thin, it is easier for veins to rupture, causing bruising. These bruises that occur can happen with the slightest bump to the skin. It is also possible for bruises to occur spontaneously as well.

Fluid Accumulation in the Abdomen

This fluid accumulation in the stomach is called ascites. Medline plus states that ascites that develops due to cirrhosis is due to the high amount of pressure in the blood vessels of the liver, accompanied with albumin levels that are too low. It is possible for a person to need the fluid drained from the abdomen by means of abdominal tap. Another treatment for this fluid build-up is the use of diuretics, and limitation of sodium intake.

Loss of Appetite

When a person suffers from cirrhosis, his appetite is almost completely gone. If this person finally does decide to eat, he isn't able to eat much of the meal before feeling like he doesn't want anymore. Loss of appetite is one of the most common early signs of cirrhosis. Significant, unintentional weight loss is usually the result of the loss of appetite.

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References

Demand Media