What are the Most Common Portal Hypertension Symptoms?

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  • Written By: K. Gierok
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2018
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Portal hypertension is a condition which occurs when blood pressure is very high in a specific part of the veins known as the portal system. The veins that make up the portal system run between the digestive system organs: the liver, stomach, and intestines. An increase in blood pressure can damage these organs. This damage can manifest in a number of portal hypertension symptoms, including blood in the stool, vomiting, changes in cognitive function, decreases in wound healing rates, and fluid retention. This condition is quite serious, and requires medical supervision. As symptoms associated with are often linked to other conditions, the total health of the patient should be considered before a diagnosis is made.

Blood in the stool is one of the most common portal hypertension symptoms. Many conditions result in streaks of blood in bowel movements, which are typically easily identified. In contrast, patients who suffer from portal hypertension usually do not have streaks of blood in their stool, but rather have bowel movements which are dark and tarry. The difference in the way the blood is presented can often make early detection and diagnosis of the condition quite difficult.


Vomiting is another of the most common portal hypertension symptoms. Patients who suffer from this condition will more than likely have streaks of blood in their vomit. In addition, vomiting is usually quite painful.

Individuals with portal hypertension can experience changes in cognitive function. These changes typically result in confusion and disorientation. In some cases, it can be inaccurately diagnosed as early Alzheimer's disease. Medical professionals must often consider other symptoms in addition to cognitive changes in order to determine the exact cause of the confusion.

A decrease in the rate at which wounds heal can also be indicative of portal hypertension. Changes in platelet aggregation are most often to blame for wounds that will not heal, or which heal at a much slower pace. Platelet aggregation often decreases significantly due to changes in liver function associated with the condition. Because of this, patients diagnosed with portal hypertension must often avoid activities which can result in severe injury, as excessive blood loss may occur. Surgeries are also typically limited for those suffering from this condition.

Portal hypertension symptoms can also include fluid retention. In most cases, individuals with portal hypertension will store excessive amounts of fluid in their abdomen. This can cause severe swelling, pain, and difficulty breathing. In the most severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the retained fluid.



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