What GVHD Looks Like

Acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) tends to show up as different symptoms and may affect different organs, including:

 

Skin

Acute symptoms

  • Redness of palms and feet
  • Rash over parts of the body
  • Sensitive, itching or dry skin

 

Chronic symptoms

  • Darkened and dry skin
  • Peeling of skin

 

General GVHD symptoms affecting the skin may also include rash, itching, skin tightness and texture changes.

 

Gastrointestinal tract

Acute symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal cramps

 

Chronic symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty eating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth

 

General symptoms are similar, including nausea, vomiting, bloating, loss of appetite, weight loss and blood in the stool.

 

Liver

Acute symptoms

  • Enlarged liver
  • Increased liver function test (bloodwork)
  • Abdominal tenderness

 

Chronic symptoms

  • Slow, steady increase in liver function test (bloodwork)
  • Enlarged liver
  • Abdominal tenderness

 

General GVHD symptoms affecting the liver include unexpected weight gain, bloating, yellowing of the eyes, fatigue and difficulty breathing.

 

Lungs

Chronic symptoms

  • Difficulty taking deep breaths
  • Shortness of breath

 

General lung symptoms include an unremitting cough, lack of stamina, fagitue and shortness of breath.

 

Eyes

Chronic symptoms

  • Dry eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

 

General symptoms affecting the eyes include dryness, irritation that does not go away and vision changes.

 

Mouth

General symptoms

  • Sores
  • Pain
  • Irritation that does not go away
  • Difficulty opening

 

Genitals

General symptoms

  • Dryness or irritation
  • Rashes
  • Painful intercourse