Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of primary sclerosing cholangitis?

Children and adults can have PSC for 20 years or more with no noticeable symptoms. For those who do, symptoms include:

  • fatigue (the most common symptom of PSC)
  • itchy skin
  • unexpected weight loss
  • abdominal pain
  • unexplained fever

As the condition progresses, a person with PSC may develop symptoms of liver failure:

  • jaundice
  • pain or tenderness in the upper right abdomen
  • weakness
  • dark urine
  • confusion or disorientation
  • easy bleeding and bruising

What causes primary sclerosing cholangitis?

Researchers have not determined what causes PSC. It may be an autoimmune disease – a disorder that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissues – though that has not yet been proven.

Many people with PSC also have ulcerative colitis. PSC raises the risk for cancer of the gallbladder, bile duct or colon.

The following factors may increase a child’s risk for PSC:

  • family history
  • male gender
  • autoimmune disease