Symptoms of liver failure: My dad has... - British Liver Trust

British Liver Trust

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Symptoms of liver failure


My dad has been a drinker for the last 30 years. He is 79. He’s always had anxiety problems due to a horrendous upbringing..and then it increased when my mum fell and became paralysed and then eventually died..( this was the last 3 years )..For the last 6 months he is having confusion . Imagining tv talking to him.and other things. Also bleeding when he goes to the toilet .stools are black.. also stomach is huge and swollen..he won’t go to doctor’s due to the Covid pandemic..I’ve been researching symptoms and found my way to this site...does he sound like he has stage 4 liver disease .im so worried..

17 Replies

Certainly the symptoms you describe could be symptomatic of advanced cirrhosis but they could also be related to other issues (bowel related etc.). He really does need to see his GP, if he telephones in and doctors agree to see him practices are seriously limiting numbers of patients in the door at any time and taking all precautions - anyone with symptoms of covid-19 are not being seen at GP's. The only way to find out what is going on is for him to be properly medically assessed.

Black stool and blood in his stools indicates some form of internal bleeding - this is a medical emergency and not to be ignored. His swollen tummy could possibly be fluid build up which is also an emergency. A call to 111 might not be amiss, even if he were to go to hospital they have separate areas for covid patients and non covid.

(My highly vulnerable disabled sister has just spent 3 weeks in hospital having broken her femur and required surgery, an ITU bed and more. She had a covid test on her admission to make sure she didn't have it, was kept safe during her stay (including having her own 3 carers going in and doing all her personal care) and was tested (negative) again this week prior to discharge home on Friday).

If you need medical care for other things then you need it, he must get some medical assistance soon.

Best wishes, Katie


Good afternooon Kc23,

I am sorry to hear about your Dads illness.

It is very important that your Dad seeks medical advice.

The NHS is very much 'open' and the reports we are receiving from patients is that they are well co-ordinated and prepared with excellent infection control measures in place.

The longer your Dad waits, the more unwell he is likely to become.

Can I suggest you call NHS111 ASAP for urgent support.

Take care,


As others have said, black stool and blood are very serious and he needs to see a GP as soon as possible. The earlier he is diagnosed the better his chances of survival will be.

All the best.


As the others have said the black stools are not a good sign. I would like to say something about the confusion.

He is 79 so his brain is getting old however you have not said he has any ongoing problems which might lead to this.

It sounds to me as if he, along with the possible cirrhosis might have HE. It is when there is too much ammonia, as it is not being got rid of by the liver and it goes to the brain. If this is the case then he should see someone ASAP.

I understand his worry about going to the Drs or hospital but he really should see someone. Even if the symptoms aren’t liver related they sound pretty serious.

Here is the link to the Trust’s pamphlet about HE.

Good luck and I hope you find out the problem soon. Stay strong for your Dad

Isabelle XX

Thank you all so much.. I think I need to get some medical help but he’s gone so stubborn and irritable. His mood swings are terrible.i don’t know what I’m walking isn’t like him at all

Uplight99 in reply to Kc23

If he is refusing to go to the hospital/GP then surely you could just call 111 and get their advice; they might even send someone to you so that way he won’t have any choice.

Mom23dds in reply to Uplight99

Yes, I am not sure about the UK but in the US you can have someone put in if their mental state is not right for at least a couple of days. Like if they are a hazard to themselves or someone else...

Hi Kc, the way you describe his mood could also be a symptom of HE. I understand I was like that when I was suffering. This seems to be one of those occasions when it is necessary to override his wishes for his safety.

Good luck - to both of you.


In Bristol I heard they haven’t had a new covid positive patient in to icu in a long time. But wherever you are you could ring the hospital and check that because it might give your dad peace of mind to get checked out

Also yes ring the NHS111 as top priority because they sent out the St John’s ambulance people to my mother and they were really good at diagnosing her and she didn’t have to go anywhere

Please, please make him get help ASAP! I understand he is from the generation that doesn’t want to waste anyone’s time! and he is probably very frightened, but he needs treatment that our amazing nhs will provide! Even in these times. Is there anyone else who can persuade him to get help?

Laura009 in reply to Lam1e

It is a massive struggle to get an alcoholic with advanced liver dsease and HE to understand he needs to go to hospital. He will find any excuse under the sun not to go and can now use covid as another one. If KC does manage to get him there, the next hurdle is keeping him there .. he may well discharge himself. It's a nightmare from start to finish 😪

Lam1e in reply to Laura009

I am that person, so I do understand all the excuses not to go! I got to the point where I didn’t really care if I lived or died and eventually when I could barely walk a friend put me in their car and took me to ED! They left me on my own and I was really out of options! Sometimes, and I know how hard it is at the moment, you just need someone Not family to just tell you - get help and live! Don’t get help and die! If you want to live then you can, it’s not easy but every day is a blessing 🙏

Laura009 in reply to Lam1e

Im so pleased you saw the light. Unfortunatly l lived through it all with my husband who died from all the alcohol induced illnesses 10 years ago. So we both have been through it but from opposite sides.

Very good luck for the future

Laura x

Lam1e in reply to Laura009

I cannot imagine how hard that must have been for you and so glad you have the courage to be here and support others🙏 Friends told me after my first hospital admission they thought I was going to die and I was so shocked it really hit home! I was also fortunate enough to receive a liver transplant in December, and I have a 2nd chance of life, because of an amazing donor and their family, and there really are no words that gift! Others are not as fortunate.

Stay well👍

Laura009 in reply to Lam1e

Wonderful news. I am so so happy for you

L xx

Just take him to his GP or to the hospital, because last week I had to go to the hospital for an appointment and there was no hassle besides they check your temperature before you proceed with any appointment, if that doesn't work call ur GP for a call back or a call out they still have to do all these jobs unless someone ina household has obviously covid-19 symptoms, besides it sounds like ur father is in a complicated position, good luck

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