Portal Hypertension; Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment

Symptoms of portal hypertension

Vomiting blood
Vomiting blood

Symptoms of portal hypertension may differ slightly depending on the cause of the condition, but they share in many symptoms including:

  • Early satiety: Early satiety is probably the most common cause of portal hypertension. It results from the congestion of the stomach and the small intestines.
  • Vomiting blood: When portal hypertension occurs, the small blood vessels that connect the portal to the systemic circulation open up, resulting in their congestion and bleeding. This bleeding can range from mild to life-threatening and is the main cause of death in those with portal hypertension as well as liver failure.
  • Black stools: Black, tarry stools indicate bleeding into the gastrointestinal system. The blood that usually comes from the stomach becomes altered with acid in the stomach, resulting in changing its color to black.
  • Abdominal pain: Abdominal pain is not found in all cases of portal hypertension. However, it can result from the enlarged liver and spleen and feels more like a dull, dragging pain than a sharp one.
  • Abdominal distension: Abdominal distension can occur from the accumulation of fluids in the abdomen. This occurs due to portal hypertension, which causes the kidney to accumulate water and salt in the abdominal cavity, a condition known as ascites. Ascites is usually mild, but it can be severe enough to impair breathing.
  • Leg swelling: Leg swelling is a side effect of the above-mentioned kidney’s reaction by increasing the amount of water and salt in the body.
  • Breathlessness: One of the complications of ascites is the pressure on the diaphragm, the main muscle responsible for our respiration, which makes breathing difficult in patients who have a large volume of fluid in their abdomen. In addition, a small amount of that fluid can move into your chest cavity via the diaphragm, making breathing more difficult, a condition known as pleural effusion.

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.