Symptoms of Hepatic Encephalopathy

Hepatic Encephalopathy results in mental confusion and an altered level of consciousness. Liver impairment causing toxic waste buildup in the body may result in Hepatic Encephalopathy. In an advanced stage, the individual may slip into a coma called hepatic coma or coma hepaticum.

Symptoms of Hepatic Encephalopathy may either start out as severe symptoms or worsen over a period. Some symptoms may develop gradually while other symptoms may emerge aggressively from the beginning.

Symptoms of Hepatic Encephalopathy include:

  • Individuals with Hepatic Encephalopathy may notice an unusual mouth odor referred to as foetor hepaticus. People around the patient may notice a sweet, musty odor.
  • A reversal or inversion of sleep wake patterns is common amongst patients with Hepatic Encephalopathy and maybe one of the earliest signs of this brain disease. Patients tend to sleep during the day and stay awake at night.
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy patients may suffer from changes in their thought process. There is often an air of confusion or fogginess surrounding everyday activities and conversations. Patients may not understand or follow instructions.
  • Forgetfulness and mild dementia maybe early signs of Hepatic Encephalopathy and may develop into memory loss.
  • There is a marked alteration in the thoughts, moods, behavior and personality of individuals suffering from Hepatic Encephalopathy. These symptoms maybe mild in the beginning and develop gradually as the brain damage progresses.
  • Loss of focus, poor concentration and being distracted easily are other mental symptoms of this disease, which affects the central nervous system. Decision-making, reflex movements and simple hand, eye or limb co-ordination deteriorates with the progress of the disease.
  • Slurred speech or illegible handwriting is another symptom of Hepatic Encephalopathy.
  • As the disorder progresses, patients often suffer from severe symptoms of lack of coordinated movements. Patients may suffer from odd movements, trembling arms or legs, overt excitement and in some cases, seizures.
  • Seizures, although rare, may send patients with Hepatic Encephalopathy into hepatic coma. Other symptoms include unresponsive behavior and unconsciousness.
  • Since Hepatic Encephalopathy is related to the impairment of the liver, patients may also show signs of liver disease such as jaundiced yellow eyes or skin, ascites (fluid retention in the stomach), severe exhaustion or fatigue, flu-like symptoms and unusual odor to the breath and urine.