Symptoms of Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD)

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The symptoms of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) depend on which part of the body is affected.

Common Symptoms for Acute GVHD

These are the most common symptoms:

  • Liver GVHD can show up as a yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes, as abnormal swelling, or in abnormal results from a blood test.
  • Gastrointestinal GVHD includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, difficulty or pain swallowing, or excessive weight loss.

Common Symptoms for Chronic GVHD

These are the most common symptoms:

  • Skin GVHD includes a rash, reddened areas or discoloration of the skin, and raised, cellulitelike or thickened areas of the skin that are hard to pinch.
  • Liver GVHD can show up as a yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes, as abnormal swelling, or in abnormal results from a blood test.
  • Gastrointestinal GVHD includes loss of appetite, weight loss, or difficulty swallowing.

Other organs and parts of the body can be affected by GVHD as well. If they are, you may experience the following symptoms:

Oral GVHD

If you have oral GVHD, you’ll likely notice mouth sores, dry mouth, or white patches inside the mouth. You may also have pain or sensitivity in the mouth.

Eye GVHD

You may experience dryness or irritation of the eyes and vision changes.

GVHD of the Reproductive Organs

This may lead to pain with sexual intercourse, vaginal dryness, sores, itching, or penile skin tightening.

Gastrointestinal Tract and Liver GVHD

You may experience difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or abnormal liver functioning.

Lung or Pulmonary GVHD

This can result in shortness of breath, a dry cough, or changes on a lung X-ray.

Neuromuscular GVHD

Neuromuscular GVHD can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, or body pain.

Memorial Sloan Kettering has doctors and nurses who are experienced in treating the symptoms of both acute and chronic GVHD.