Internal Bleeding With Hepatitis C: Signs and Symptoms
Last updated: March 2022
When I was diagnosed with the hepatitis C virus, it was an emergency room tragedy. I came in through ER after blowing up with ascites. What I didn't know was that I had been bleeding internally for several weeks and didn't even know it. What appeared to be a stomach bug was way more serious than that. If only I had known, I might have called my doctor earlier. Instead, I almost died before getting a lifesaving blood transfusion. This is what to watch for if you have advanced liver disease. Here are some signs of internal bleeding with hepatitis C:
Stomach pain and nausea
These can both be symptoms of something else. However, if you have been diagnosed with the hepatitis C virus and know that your liver is damaged, it could be serious. I felt sick to my stomach for weeks. Nothing sounded good. I couldn't eat very much without feeling full and bloated. It turns out that my portal vein was backing up into my stomach and esophagus. Small amounts of blood were collecting in my stomach and making me feel queasy.
If your stools are dark and have a tar-like color or consistency, tell your doctor. It can mean that there is old blood going through your digestive tract. It may start at your esophagus or perhaps even in your colon.
Bright red blood
You would think that throwing up bright red blood or finding red in your stool would be a big wake-up call. The trouble is that if you are digesting your own blood, you may have increased hepatic encephalopathy and get confused. I honestly thought it was a bug and ate a lot of red jello and popsicles. So when my vomit and stool was red, it made sense to me that I couldn't hold down food, or that it went straight through me. I told my family and friends to stay away so they wouldn't get sick. I was isolated with internal bleeding from hepatitis C for weeks before my kidney started to give out.
When you have been losing blood over a period of time, the drowsiness comes on slowly. Your hemoglobin may be getting lower. In addition to that, the hepatic encephalopathy creates that perfect storm where you aren't even worried about sleeping next to the toilet. Tell someone if you are worn out and unable to hold food down.
Because your liver is not functioning well, blood is also being backed up into your spleen. This is another double whammy since your blood is not clotting well and you are bleeding internally. If you notice that the slightest thing will create a bruise, it may be a sign that something is wrong.
All of these signs of internal bleeding with hepatitis C can tell a story of what is going on in your stomach. A gastrointerologist is a doctor who can look at your symptoms and order tests. Lab work is a big indication, but more tests like an endoscopy or colonoscopy may reveal more. Talk about what is going on. Writing down notes about all of these signs will help you remember to talk to your medical provider. Always call if you are concerned about bleeding varices.
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