Symptoms of Organ Failure

The condition of organ dysfunction occurs when an organ deviates from the function it is intended to perform. An organ dysfunction condition becomes organ failure when the normal homeostasis can be maintained only with the intervention of external clinical help. There are many symptoms of major organ failures as well as multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.

Symptoms of Major Organ Failures

Liver Failure


Chronic Liver Failure (Cirrhosis)


Yellowing of the skin

Excessive weakness

Easy bruising

A great loss of appetite

Edema and ascites – the retention has a tendency to accumulate beneath the tissues of the legs and ankles

Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) – infection takes place in the ascites (abdominal cavity) and abdomen

Esophageal varices bleeding

Liver cancer

Acute Liver Failure

Yellowing of eyeballs and skin


Constant pain in upper abdomen


Weakening of concentration power

Bleeding disorders – the liver does not produce sufficient levels of clotting ingredients; thus the body has difficulty in controlling bleeding

Cerebral edema

Kidney failure

Infections – there is an increased risk of infection in the patient’s brain and urinary and respiratory tracts

Kidney Failure


Chronic Kidney Failure


Fatigue and loss of appetite

Swelling of the ankles and feet

High blood pressure

Pain in chest


Fluid retention, which leads to swelling in legs and arms, accompanied by high blood pressure

Decreased sexual appetite

Complications in pregnancy and risk to the fetus

Weakness in bones

Decrease in immunity

Acute Kidney Failure

Fatigue and drowsiness

Pain in chest

A decline in the urine output

Fluid retention leading to swelling in the ankles, feet, and legs

Excessive pain in the chest because of the inflammation of the lining covering the heart

A shortness of breath due to the fluid build-up in the chest

Weakness in muscles due to the bodily fluids imbalance

A risk of death is also present

Lung Failure



Obstruction to the air path

Weakness in muscles

Lung diseases such as pneumonia are a common side effect that accompanies lung failure

Heart Failure



Shortness of breath


Loss of appetite

Increased heart rate

Brain Failure


Chronic Brain Failure (Alzheimer's Dementia)

Loss of memory – forget what they learned a few minutes before and is no longer to accurately relate information or details about events

Trouble driving, working, or completing any other routine task

A loss of dates, time, and season takes place

Unable to process events currently taking place

Experience difficulty participating in conversation

Simply stop in the middle of a thought

Acute Brain Failure (Delirium)

Consciousness gets disturbed

Reduction in the ability to focus

Problems related to memory, perception, and orientation takes place

Stress increases

Symptoms of Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome

There are two ways of describing organ dysfunction in a critically ill patient:

(1) The clinical intervention that was organized to maintain the failing organ system.

(2) The acute physiologic impairment that caused a need for support.

More complex systems have recently been developed that focus on quantifying the organ dysfunction on a numerical scale, rather than mechanical quantity. Though systems vary, each focuses on the same six organ systems to characterize MODS: cardiovascular, hepatic, respiratory, renal, hematologic, and neurologic. There are minor variables in the various systems, including selected parameters as well as weighting and timing placed on each selected variable.

Apart from the above mentioned organ failures, there are certain other failures which lead to MODS.

Neurologic Failure

Neurologic failure takes place due to a great reduction in the Glasgow Coma Score, which is reflected by an alteration in the level of consciousness

Hematologic Failure

The hematologic failure can take place due to Leucocytosis – a response to acute stress or a mild anaemia which results from the suppression of bone marrow.

Immunologic Failure

Immunologic failure occurs due to the abnormalities which take place in both specific and non-specific immune functions within the infected person’s body. It can also alter the production of antibodies.

Metabolic Failure

The metabolic failures and endocrine abnormalities are also evident during the MODS. The relative resistance of insulin is readily detected and often discovered.

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