Itching is often the only symptom noticed by a woman who experiences Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP). The itching will typically increase in severity until either treatment is implemented or delivery takes place. The itching can vary from person to person on the palms of hands, arms, legs, soles of feet or all-over itching. The itching can be recurrent or constant. Although itching sounds like a minor symptom, to a woman who experiences with ICP, it can be a life hindering problem. Loss of sleep, loss of appetite, and an inability to perform normal daily tasks can be a result of the intense itching!
Please keep in mind that some itching is normal in pregnancy. Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) itching is usually distinguished by the fact that a woman may itch all over her entire body. Some women scratch themselves so frantically that they make themselves bleed. It is important to note that itching at times may be overlooked by doctors since it is often a normal side effect of pregnancy. If a woman finds herself itching more than normal, it is important to request a Fractionated Bile Acid blood test (Serum Bile Acid only gives the total bile acids) as soon as possible.
Some women not all with ICP will develop other symptoms associated with cholestasis as listed below.
The biochemical reactions that take place during Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy often create darker colored urine. You might notice that your urine is darker than normal. This can be a sign of dehydration, but can be caused by ICP as well. Some women also have pale stools.
Right Upper Quadrant Pain
Some Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy patients have pain on the right side under the right ribs and others mention the pain in the back just below the right shoulder blade. The pain has been expressed as debilitating, uncomfortable and feels as if baby is pressing against the ribs. There are some women that have the RUQ pain begin before the more common itch symptom.
Although it is more uncommon to have jaundice in the mother, it does sometimes occur during ICP. If you notice a pale yellow appearance to the skin or eyes, please seek medical attention.
Although fatigue is very common all throughout pregnancy, Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy can also cause fatigue due to the large role the liver plays in the metabolization process. ICP can cause fatigue through stress, loss of sleep, and the malabsorption of some vitamins and minerals.
Another possible sign and symptom of Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) is the onset of premature labor. Early delivery in mothers with ICP is encouraged, but delivering too early can be dangerous. You may wish to talk to your doctor about taking precautions such as taking a steroid shot to help the baby with developing his or her lungs.
Other symptoms may include
• Mild Depression
Symptoms NOT Usually Associated With Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy
A rash is not usually associated with ICP, although one may develop which is caused by all the scratching. Some women with ICP have noticed having splotchy, red, hot to-the-touch hands and feet. It is not normal for ICP to worsen after delivery. If this happens, more testing should be done to rule an underlying liver disorder. However, it should be noted that in severe cases of cholestasis or after repeated cases, it can take several months for liver functions to return to normal. Some women have stated it taking as long as one year for blood test to return to normal.