Symptoms & Causes of Primary Biliary Cholangitis (Primary Biliary Cirrhosis)
What are the symptoms of primary biliary cholangitis?
The most common symptoms of primary biliary cholangitis are
- feeling tired
- itchy skin
Other symptoms may include
- discomfort or pain in the upper-right side of your abdomen
- joint pain or arthritis
- symptoms of other health problems that may occur along with primary biliary cholangitis, such as dry eyes and dry mouth due to Sjögren’s syndrome
As the disease gets worse, symptoms may include
- darkening of skin color
- fatty deposits that appear as yellow bumps on the skin, called xanthomas
- symptoms of cirrhosis, such as edema, jaundice, and weight loss
Many people have no symptoms when they are first diagnosed with primary biliary cholangitis. Doctors diagnose about 60% of people with primary biliary cholangitis before symptoms begin.3 People with primary biliary cholangitis and no symptoms are identified through blood tests. Some people do not have symptoms for years after they have been diagnosed with primary biliary cholangitis.
What causes primary biliary cholangitis?
Experts aren’t sure what causes primary biliary cholangitis. Studies suggest that certain genes make some people more likely to develop the disease. In people with these genes, factors in the environment may trigger an autoimmune reaction that causes their immune system to attack the small bile ducts in the liver, causing primary biliary cholangitis.
Possible environmental triggers include
- cigarette smoking
- exposure to certain chemicals
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(NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.