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What are the symptoms of portal hyptertension?

Portal hypertension can cause a life-threatening condition known as varices where blood vessels in the esophagus, stomach or rectum become enlarged and can rupture, causing internal bleeding. Patients with varices often have black, tarry or bloody stools. They also may vomit blood.

Portal hypertension can also cause a condition known as encephalopathy. Encephalopathy occurs because the damaged liver can no longer successfully screen toxins from the blood. These toxins travel to the brain and impair the function of brain cells. Patients with encephalopathy generally become forgetful or easily confused.

A third condition caused by portal hypertension is ascites. With ascites, fluid leaks from the portal artery (due to the high pressure) and accumulates in the abdomen. Patients with ascites may have abdominal swelling and pain, loss of appetite from the swollen abdomen pressing on the stomach, and shortness of breath from the swollen abdomen pressing on the lungs. In some cases, patients with ascites experience swelling in their ankles.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.