When to Go to Emergency

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When to Get Help:

If you have cirrhosis and get any of the symptoms below, DO NOT DRIVE. Call 911 or get someone to take you to an emergency room immediately. Say you have cirrhosis, and describe what’s happening to you.

Cirrhosis ComplicationSymptoms
Bleeding Varices
Bleeding from varices (enlarged veins) in the esophagus (food pipe) or stomach bursting open
You vomit blood or something that looks like coffee grounds

You have black, tar-like bowel movements
Confusion or sleepiness from a buildup of toxins in the blood
You have a fever

You have severe confusion or sleepiness

You can’t speak, walk, or follow directions properly

You have severe nausea and vomiting
Infection in Ascites or Pleural Fluid
Infection in fluid buildup in the abdomen (belly) or around the lungs
You have new or sharp pain in your belly or chest that doesn’t go away

You have a fever

You have trouble breathing

You have severe nausea and vomiting
Yellowing of the eyes and skin
Your eyes and skin have suddenly turned yellow

Note: This section was adapted from content on MyHealth.Alberta.ca.


The information on this page was adapted (with permission) from the references below, by the Cirrhosis Care Alberta project team (physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, registered dietitians, physiotherapists, pharmacists, and patient advisors).

This information is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare team. They know your medical situation best. Always follow your healthcare team’s advice.


  1. US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration 
Last reviewed March 15, 2021

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