Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes that occurs when the diseased liver does not absorb enough bilirubin.
Bile products deposited in the skin may cause intense itching.
If cirrhosis prevents bile from reaching the gallbladder, gallstones may develop.
Toxins in the Blood or Brain
A damaged liver cannot remove toxins from the blood, causing them to accumulate in the blood and eventually the brain. There, toxins can dull mental functioning and cause personality changes, coma, and even death. Signs of the buildup of toxins in the brain can include:
- Neglect of personal appearance
- Trouble concentrating
- Changes in sleep habits.
Sensitivity to Medication
Cirrhosis slows the liver's ability to filter medications from the blood. Because the liver does not remove drugs from the blood at the usual rate, they act longer than expected and build up in the body. This causes a person to be more sensitive to medications and their side effects.
Normally, blood from the intestines and spleen is carried to the liver through the portal vein. But cirrhosis slows the normal flow of blood through the portal vein, which increases the pressure inside it. This condition is called portal hypertension.
When blood flow through the portal vein slows, blood from the intestines and spleen backs up into blood vessels in the stomach and esophagus. These blood vessels may become enlarged because they are not meant to carry this much blood. The enlarged blood vessels, called varices, have thin walls and carry high pressure. As a result, they are more likely to burst. If they do burst, the result is a serious bleeding problem in the upper stomach or esophagus that requires immediate medical attention.