Understanding hepatic encephalopathy symptoms and stages
What are the signs of hepatic encephalopathy?
Hepatic encephalopathy starts slowly. People with hepatic encephalopathy may not even know they have it. To them, things seem fine. But things may not seem fine to family or friends.
People with worsening hepatic encephalopathy may not be able to drive a car or work a steady job. They may also need to rely on a caregiver to take care of them. In serious cases, hospitalization, coma, and even death can occur.
Knowing the signs of hepatic encephalopathy can help slow it down before it gets worse. Let a doctor know right away if you or a loved one is beginning to show these signs or has shown them before. That way you can get treatment for your hepatic encephalopathy.
- Forgetfulness, mild confusion
- Poor judgment
- Being extra nervous or excited
- Not knowing where they are or where they're going
- Inappropriate behavior or severe personality changes
- Breath with a musty or sweet odor
- Change in sleep patterns (often awake at night and sleeping during the day)
- Worsening of handwriting or loss of other small hand movements
- Movements or shaking of hands or arms
- Slurred speech
- Slowed or sluggish movement
What are the stages of hepatic encephalopathy?
Mild hepatic encephalopathy
Patients may have sleep problems and trouble concentrating. They may have severe mood swings. Their hands might shake and they may have difficulty writing.
Moderate hepatic encephalopathy
Patients may not have much energy. They keep forgetting things and have problems with basic math. They may behave strangely and slur their speech.
Severe hepatic encephalopathy
Patients are very sleepy and sometimes pass out. They can't do basic math at all. They act strange and can be very fearful and jumpy.
The final stage of hepatic encephalopathy is coma—the patient is unconscious.
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