Esophageal Varices; Symptoms, Diagnosis & Operative Treatment

Symptoms of esophageal varices

It is important to know that varices themselves have no symptoms. It is when complications happen that symptoms occur. Otherwise, the main symptoms of someone suffering from esophageal varices are the same as the underlying condition causing them. In patients with liver diseases causing cirrhosis, the following symptoms are prevalent:

  • Abdominal distension: Abdominal distension is caused by ascites, which is the accumulation of fluid within the abdominal cavity. It occurs due to portal hypertension as well as the decreased amount of proteins in the blood that is found in liver cirrhosis.
  • Jaundice: Jaundice is the yellowish discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes. It occurs due to liver dysfunction but is not always seen in chronic condition when liver damage is extensive.
  • Early satiety: one of the specific signs of portal hypertension is getting full easily even by small meals. The reason behind it is that the stomach and the intestines are engorged with blood which makes absorption of food challenging, and your body senses it as if you are full.
  • Sleep abnormalities and hand tremors: Both of which are symptoms of the neurological damage that occurs in advanced liver disease.

The main complication that occurs in esophageal varices is bloody vomiting. It can occur multiple times and can be so severe that hospitalization is required. One of the distinctive features of this vomiting is that it usually occurs after a heavy meal. Varices are dilatations of blood vessels that gradually enlarge, and eventually, they enlarge enough that the overlying tissues become thin and are eroded. After a heavy meal, the blood flow through these blood vessels increases to the limit of causing it to rupture and bleed.

If the bleeding is minor, blood may pass into the intestines and then into stools. Your stools become tarry black in color and sticky in consistency. If this small amount of bleeding goes on for a long time, it can cause iron-deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia can cause other symptoms including:

  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache
  • Easy fatigue
  • Fainting

Written by Greg M. Wilcox

With a background in medical research, I'm dedicated to unraveling the complexities of health and nutrition in a way that's easy to understand and implement. From debunking myths to sharing science-backed insights, my goal is to guide you on a journey towards optimal well-being.