Varices from Hepatitis C: Throwing up Blood

I thought it was a stomach flu. For 3 weeks, I kept eating red jello and drinking chicken broth. I stayed away from family and friends so they wouldn’t get it from me. I slept on the bathroom floor near the toilet. I slept in the tub. I didn’t know that the Hepatitis C Virus had silently destroyed my liver. Come to find out, I was throwing up blood, not jello. My liver was failing–and I had varices from hepatitis C.

Within days, I went to the doctor and then to the hospital for tests. My belly was swollen and it wasn’t the flu. Ascites was causing the swelling. Varices was causing my stomach and esophagus to bleed. I would say that it was scary, except I had hepatic encephalopathy, so my brain didn’t even recognize the truth. Thankfully, my doctors did.

Let me say first off: bleeding varices from hepatitis C do not have to kill you. There are options and treatments.

If you experience any of the symptoms of varices, call your doctor. They can treat them so that you will not experience a bleed out.

Diagnosis: The doctor will put a tube down your esophagus to get a close look. A CT Scan can also check your portal vein pressure.

Cause:Portal hypertension is when your portal vein is pinched off and blood can’t flow through.

Symptoms: Throwing up blood, stomach pain, black stool, bloody stool.

Treatment: Get any bleeding under control with variceal banding. Take beta-blockers as prescribed by your doctor. Eat a low sodium diet. Have a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt put in to create blood vein connections in your liver.

I had 2 bleed outs of varices from hepatitis C and survived them both! I am glad that my family understood what to do beforehand. We were prepared. My first bleeds were small ones over several days before I was diagnosed. The second one was pretty massive. By knowing what steps to take, my life was saved.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Let someone know if you have varices and feel extremely nauseated.
  2. If bleeding begins, roll onto your stomach so that you will not breath in blood.
  3. Call 911 and ask for an ambulance.
  4. Stay calm. Take deep breaths.
  5. Have family members talk to you in a calm voice.

I told my daughter that my stomach was cramping before I went to bed. When the bleeding began, I called her and she called the ambulance. If you lose a lot of blood, you may pass out. I had 911 on speed dial for times when I was alone. It made me feel better knowing I could hit a button and get help. Being face down will prevent you from drowning in your own blood. Staying calm is helpful. Getting upset will only raise your blood pressure.

It feels like a dream world when you lose a lot of blood. I felt my life slipping away. I kept hearing my daughter and husband's voice. My doctor gave me 7 pints and 2 units of platelets. They also banded several varices. I followed up with bandings every 3 months for the next year. Finally, we were able to get it under control.

Throwing up blood is no fun. Getting good doctor care after your Hepatitis C diagnosis is important. You can prevent varices from hepatitis C by following your doctor’s orders. It is important to be prepared in the event of a varices bleed. You can live with no fear of varices!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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