Complications of cirrhosis can include:

  • High blood pressure in the liver (portal hypertension). Cirrhosis slows the normal flow of blood through the liver, increasing pressure in the vein that brings blood from the intestines and spleen to the liver.
  • Swelling in the legs and abdomen. Portal hypertension can cause fluid to accumulate in the legs (edema) and in the abdomen (ascites). Edema and ascites also may result from the inability of the liver to make certain blood proteins.
  • Infections. If you have cirrhosis, your body may have difficulty fighting infections. Ascites can lead to bacterial peritonitis, a serious infection.
  • Bleeding. Portal hypertension can cause blood to be redirected to smaller veins. Strained by the extra load, these smaller veins can burst, causing serious bleeding. High blood pressure also may enlarge veins and lead to life-threatening bleeding in the esophagus (esophageal varices) or the stomach (gastric varices).
  • Malnutrition. Cirrhosis may make it more difficult for your body to process nutrients, leading to weakness and weight loss.
  • High levels of toxins in the blood (hepatic encephalopathy). A liver damaged by cirrhosis isn't able to clear toxins from the blood as well as a healthy liver can. Toxins in the blood can cause mental confusion and difficulty concentrating. With time, hepatic encephalopathy can progress to unresponsiveness or coma.
  • Jaundice. Jaundice occurs when the diseased liver doesn't remove enough bilirubin, a blood waste product, from your blood. Jaundice causes yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, and darkening of urine.
  • Increased risk of liver cancer.
Aug. 01, 2014

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.