In the early stages, PSC may cause no real significant symptoms and is often diagnosed while doctors are investigating something else. When symptoms do occur they include itching, that may be severe in some patients, and fatigue.
Your liver produces bile, a liquid that helps your body break down fats and fatty vitamins in your food. Bile moves through the liver, and into the gall bladder and small intestines, via a system of ducts. PSC is a long term, chronic disease that slowly causes damage to the bile ducts. Very gradually inflammation can cause scarring in the duct that prevents the bile from passing out of the liver.
In the early stages, PSC may cause no real significant symptoms and is often diagnosed while doctors are investigating something else. When symptoms do occur they include itching, that may be severe in some patients, and fatigue. Continual blocking of the bile ducts can lead to infection resulting in fever and abdominal pain. Infections will need to be treated with antibiotics.
Doctors are not sure of the exact cause of PSC. There are two possible causes being considered as promising.
- First, PSC as a type of autoimmune disorder - As many as 90% of patients with PSC also have an Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the majority of those have Ulcerative Colitis. The issue is that only 10% of people with UC also have PSC, so more research is needed in to this line of study.
- Secondly, damage to the bile ducts caused by a bacterial infection – also tied to the close link between UC and PSC. It is possible that the inflammation of the colon wall allows for bacteria to circulate through out the system, leading to an inflammation of the bile ducts. Repeated inflammation then leads to damage, which in turn leads to the development of PSC.
Damage can continue overtime and can lead to liver failure. Because of the serious nature of the disease you should follow your doctor’s orders closely and continue regular monitoring. Your gastroenterologist will set up care plan that fits your personal situation.