Cirrhosis: When should one seek medical advice?

By  , Expert Content
Sep 03, 2012

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Cirrhosis is a common liver disease, which affects millions of people. It can cause several complications and decreases longevity (i.e. lifespan) of the affected person. Timely diagnosis and treatment can prolong the longevity and decrease complications in the affected person.

Consult a doctor if you have one or more of the following symptoms suggestive of some significant medical problem:

  • general symptoms, such as loss of appetite, malaise, feeling tired and sick (that lasts for more than a few days)
  • recurrent fever (that lasts for more than a few days)
  • itching or irritation all over the body
  • pain in abdomen (located over the liver i.e. on the right side of the abdomen, under the lower rib cage)
  • jaundice (yellowish discoloration of skin and the whites of the eyes), dark coloured urine (the colour of cola or tea), pale stools (grayish or clay coloured)
  • unintended weight loss
  • tendency to bleed and bruise easily (such as bleeding from gums, skin bleeds, nosebleeds).
  • swelling of legs, ankles and feet
  • swelling of abdomen
  • enlargement of breast (in men).

Regular follow-ups are needed for people with cirrhosis. During follow-up, your doctor will check for signs and symptoms of complications and do test/s. If you have cirrhosis, consult your doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • fever (for more than a few days)
  • mental changes, such as confusion, irritability, lethargy, extreme sleepiness, stupor or hallucinations (hepatic encephalopathy)
  • sudden collapse or loss of consciousness
  • extreme weakness or fatigue
  • confusion or difficulty in concentrating
  • increasing Jaundice
  • blood in vomit or feces
  • increase in swelling of the abdomen (due to collection of fluid in the abdomen)
  • severe nausea and vomiting.

Who to consult

Some health professionals, who can be consulted for liver disease and cirrhosis, include:

  • family physicians
  • nurse practitioners
  • physician assistants
  • internists
  • gastroenterologist (a doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of disease of the gut).


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