The symptoms of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) depend on which part of the body is affected.
Common Acute GVHD Symptoms
There are several types of acute GVHD.
Acute GVHD of the skin can cause rash, redness, and itchiness. Less-common symptoms are blisters and skin sloughing or peeling.
Gastrointestinal (Gut) GVHD
Symptoms of acute gut or gastrointestinal GVHD includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, and excessive weight loss.
Acute GVHD of the liver can show up as a yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes, abnormal swelling, or abnormal results from a blood test.
Common Chronic GVHD Symptoms
Chronic GVHD can affect a number of different organ systems.
Symptoms of chronic GVHD of the skin include reddened areas or discoloration of the skin and raised, cellulite-like, or thickened areas of the skin that are hard to pinch.
Oral (Mouth) GVHD
Symptoms of chronic oral GVHD include mouth sores, dry mouth, or white patches inside the mouth. Chronic oral GVHD can also cause pain or sensitivity in the mouth, particularly with certain foods.
Symptoms of chronic GVHD of the eye include dryness or irritation of the eyes, sensitivity to light, and vision changes.
Reproductive Organ GVHD
Chronic GVHD of the reproductive organs may lead to pain with sexual intercourse, vaginal dryness, sores, itching, or skin tightening on the penis.
Gastrointestinal Tract (Gut) GVHD and Liver GVHD
Symptoms of chronic GVHD of the gut or liver include difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or abnormal liver functioning.
Lung (Pulmonary) GVHD
Chronic GVHD of the lung can cause shortness of breath, cough, oxygen requirement, or changes on a lung X-ray or pulmonary function test.
Muscle, Connective Tissue, and Joint GVHD
Chronic GVHD affecting the muscles, connective tissues, and joints can cause muscle inflammation or weakness, joint stiffness or tightening and body pain.
Memorial Sloan Kettering has doctors and nurses who are experienced in treating the symptoms of acute and chronic GVHD in both adults and children.