What were the symptoms of your portal hypertension?
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What are the symptoms of portal hypertension?
When blood cannot easily flow through the liver architecture (from portal
vein to sinusoids to hepatic vein to Vena cava), it tries to bypass the portal
system, using the systemic venous system to return to the heart. Symptoms of
portal hypertension are due to the complications of decreased blood flow through
the liver, and from increased pressure within the veins where blood is shunted.
Varices describe enlarged veins. Blood
meant for the portal system, is diverted to and gathers other veins as it makes
its way to the heart. These varices can occur in the esophagus, stomach, around
the umbilicus and in the anus and rectum.
Esophageal and gastric varices are at
risk for life threatening bleeding and can have signs and symptoms with
vomiting blood and
in the stool. Melena describes black,
tarry stool that is the result of upper
Ascites describes abnormal fluid
collection within the peritoneum (the sac that contains the intestines within
the abdominal cavity) and is due to decrease protein in the body. The liver
produces the body's protein and portal hypertension and the underlying liver
disease decreases its ability to function.
Hepatic encephalopathy is another
complication of liver disease, causing confusion and lethargy
due to the
buildup of waste products and the inability of the liver to adequately filter
Splenomegaly or enlargement of the
spleen. Because of portal hypertension, blood backs up, and this also can trap the
components of blood (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets) within
the spleen causing anemia and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count in the
Decreased white blood cell counts
increase the risk of general infection. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis
is an infection within the peritoneal sac within the abdomen, and is seen as
a consequence of long standing portal hypertension.