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Date of last update: 10/15/2017.

Forum Name: Liver Diseases

Question: Cirrhosis of the liver.

 soirse - Fri Feb 27, 2004 8:16 am


Around 2 months ago I awoke one morning feeling very ill - nausea. I was sweating a lot and felt very faint and fatigued. By lunchtime I noticed I'd gone a slight yellowish tinge - not very much but it was noticeable - also in my eyes (slight jaundice). I felt quite delirious and faint.

I put it down to a lot of alcohol consumption over Christmas and was about to go to the doctor but the yellow went away after two days and I felt fine again. A few days later I was looking on the internet and found a website that matched my symptoms - cirrhosis of the liver. I panicked and went to hospital where they did a physical exam of my liver, spleen etc and an lft. A few days later my doctor told me over the phone after he received the results that I had an elevated ggt which he put down to drinking too much (in hindsight I drank a lot over the xmas period) - everything else was normal.

My GP suggested I go back in a month for another lft but I'm in constant terror that I might have cirrhosis of the liver because I found this other symptom on the web called 'terry's nails' - which is white fingernails with 1-2mm red tips (at the distal edge). I've mentioned this to my gp and he either hasn't heard of it or doesn't think it's anything to worry about.

Have you heard of this symptom?

I would really appreciate it as I'm waking up in fear at night thinking I have liver cirrhosis.

Thank you,


p.s. What makes all of this worse for me is that I have a history of hypochondria!
 soirse - Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:20 am

I'm male, 24 with no history of any illness apart from a broken leg.
 soirse - Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:33 am

I forgot to mentoin another thing.

When they did an exam at the hospital the lovely Jamaican lady doctor that checked me told me she would put all her savings on me not having cirrhosis of the liver. I had found this broken vein on my shoulder and was convinced that it was portal hypertension but she laughed. I also showed her my nails and she didn't know what I was on about. She also didn't really want to do the lft - but i persuaded her.

All in all it's probably in my head but nobody seems to know about this fingernail thing.

I've scanned my hand and if you get a chance you might have a look:

If it is terry's nails surely that is a sign of advanced cirrhosis, ie. the liver cannot produce proteins properly and should be accompanied by other symptoms?
 Dr. Tamer Fouad - Tue Mar 02, 2004 11:44 am

User avatar I would trust the lovely Jamaican if I were you :wink:
If you had cirrhosis it would manifest itself easily with all the classic symptoms and it would have shown up in your liver profile tests. Again it would be very easy to tell if there were cirrhosis from a liver ultrasonography (not that I am suggesting that you do one).
As for Terry's nails I looked it up it was reported by Terry et al in the Lancet 1:757 in 1954 when he reported its association with liver cirrhosis. Its not a very reliable sign, I personally hadn't heard of it before.
 soirse - Tue Mar 02, 2004 12:00 pm

Dr. Fouad,

You've no idea what a relief it is to hear from someone that this fingernail thing is nothing to worry about. I'd mentioned it to my doctor and he hadn't heard of it either. Any my brother too who has just become a doctor (psychiartist actually) also hadn't heard of it. What do you reckon is going on with my fingernails then? did you see the scanned picture?

Thank you so much for your help. Does that mean I can have a glass of wine tonight?? I've been eating bloody cans of Tuna everyday and ingesting huge amounts of Milk Thistle thinking I'm on my last legs!
 Dr. Russell M - Tue Mar 02, 2004 1:49 pm

User avatar Hi!

I see you've got the ball rolling! Now, I wouldn't wait for any lovely Jamaican to advise me to abstain.

Warm regards,

 Dr. Tamer Fouad - Tue Mar 02, 2004 2:01 pm

User avatar Right you are Bill! :D
I also wouldn't advise drinking after the liver insult.
I checked the scanned picture. It doesn't seem like anything to worry about. Let's wait and see if this develops into something more recognisable.

Here's a link about nail conditions I found with pictures too! There's also a picture of Terry's nails.

Click here!
 soirse - Tue Mar 02, 2004 2:18 pm

Thank you both again for your reply. I'm so glad a resource like this is available - i beats trying to get through to my GP who's inundated with patients - he's one of only two doctors for over 52,000 people locally here in Ireland.

Reading the articles you find on the Internet like the one I found about Terry's nails does make it very easy to convince yourself that something serious is wrong.

The fingernail thing though - I remember noticing them around a year ago and didn't think of it as anything to worry about until I accidently stumbled upon it as a symptom when I was trying to find reasons for my going yellow for those few days - have you any idea why this might have happened? - my brother thinks it was probably a dose of hepatitis from a dodgy meal out somewhere - but then again - he's only recently finished medicine and probably has very limited knowledge. If it was hepatitis would it have shown up in my LFT?

So you think there's nothing to worry about then? As in if there was anything 'really' serious like cirrhosis it would have shown up on the LFT?

I have to make an appointment to get another test done - do you think the GGT (whatever a GGt is) will have gone down? If it hasn't what could this mean?

Sorry to ask so many questions but I've been very scared recently about this whole thing.

any help is much much appreciated.
 soirse - Fri Mar 05, 2004 1:18 pm


I went to my GP today who did a physical exam of my liver. Needless to say, it was yet another amusing sketch in that what I though were spider naevi due to portal hypertension on my shoulders was just a couple of broken veins. Show's you what self diagnosing yourself can lead to!!

He actually commented on me being physically fit (which I find surprising given I'm not very athletic at all) and said I was a long way off from getting cirrhosis. He says it takes a good 40 years of constant abuse to end up with what I thought I had. Nevertheless, it's given me a bit of a scare so I think I'll be sensible from now on.

The nails oddish colour and red bit at the tips he says are due to Raynauds syndrome which I've had since I was around 13. He also checked my spleen which apparently was fine.

He did another LFT to see if the GGT has gone down. I get the results on Monday. Wasn't impressed to discover that I'd been drinking shots prior to the first LFT.

Thank you sooo much for your help I really do appreciate it. I'll let you know the results of the LFT on Monday.



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