Understanding primary sclerosing cholangitis symptoms

Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is an autoimmune disease that mainly targets bile ducts in the liver. PSC is a rare condition, impacting about 1 in 10,000 people worldwide, and it is diagnosed twice as frequently in men as it is in women.

The underlying cause of primary sclerosing cholangitis remains uncertain, and there is currently no established treatment for the condition. Though it progresses slowly,, PSC can eventually lead to liver failure, requiring a liver transplant for a significant number of individuals living with this condition.

Below, we’re sharing some information about primary sclerosing cholangitis, including the definition of the disease and common symptoms to be aware of. Read on for more information.

What is primary sclerosing cholangitis?

The definition of primary sclerosing cholangitis can be found in its name. It is a primary disease (meaning it's the main cause of the damage to the liver) that causes inflammation of the bile ducts (cholangitis), which, in time, leads to scarring (sclerosis). The scar tissue causes the bile ducts to narrow, which makes it difficult for bile to pass through the ducts. This progressively causes damage to the liver and can eventually lead to liver failure.

Addressing primary sclerosing cholangitis symptoms

The symptoms of primary sclerosing cholangitis can vary, and many people do not develop them right away. Common signs of PSC include:

  • Pain the abdomen
  • Itchy skin
  • A yellow tone in the skin and/or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Feelings of weakness

To address these symptoms, doctors will typically prescribe over-the-counter medications for pain and itchy skin, and may recommend the placement of stints to help keep the bile ducts expanded. Additionally, while there is no specific “primary sclerosing cholangitis diet,” it is recommended to eat nutrient-dense foods and limit alcohol intake to help support healthy liver function.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis clinical trials

Though PSC progresses slowly, it can eventually cause infections of the bile ducts and cirrhosis of the liver. Currently, there is no specific treatment to address the underlying cause of primary sclerosing cholangitis, but research is underway to learn more about the condition and develop potential new therapies for the patient population. 

Participating in clinical trials for primary sclerosing cholangitis can offer a valuable option for many individuals who have received a diagnosis, as it provides individuals with cutting-edge therapies and support from PSC specialists. To find out more about the currently recruiting clinical trials for PSC, click the button below to get started.