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, including:

  • 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.

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

  • family history
  • male gender
  • autoimmune disease

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