Understanding Ascites – Symptoms and Treatments

by Sonam S. Professional Writer

Ascites is the accumulation of ascetic fluid within the abdomen. The accumulated fluid can sometimes become very large in amount, and can make people lose their appetite as well as feel short of breath and uncomfortable. Ascites usually happens when your liver stops working properly; this leads to fluid filling the space between the lining of abdomen and the organs.

Causes of Ascites

There are several benign conditions that can lead to Ascites; however, cirrhosis or liver failure are considered as being the most common one. Other non-cancerous conditions that can cause Ascites are heart failure, infection, and pancreatitis. Cancers that can lead to Ascites include ovarian, pancreatic, uterine, and colon cancers. Breast cancer, lymphoma, and lung cancer can also spread to the abdomen, leading to Ascites.

To differentiate between malignant and benign cancerous Ascites, your doctor will perform a procedure called paracentesis. The procedure involves the insertion of a needle into the abdomen. This needle will draw a small fluid sample. This sample will then be examined under a microscope for certain characteristics, such as the presence of cancer cells. These characteristics will help determine the cause of Ascites.

Symptoms of Ascites

Presence of small levels of fluids in the abdomen usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. Moderate amount of fluid can increase a person’s waist size and cause weight gain, while large amounts of fluid may cause abdominal swelling and discomfort. In the last case, the abdomen feels taut and the navel is flat or pushed out. This swelling puts pressure on the stomach and this can sometimes leads to a loss of appetite, as well as pressure on the lungs, which in turn causes shortness of breath. Here are some of the common symptoms of Ascites:

· Weight gain

· Distended abdomen

· Difficulty breathing when you lie down

· Loss of appetite

· Pain in the abdomen

· Bloating

· Nausea and Vomiting

· Heartburn

Ascites Treatment

The most basic Ascites treatment is a low-sodium diet. But if the diet is ineffective, you may also be diuretic, which makes the kidneys excrete more sodium and water into the urine, making you urinate more.

If the condition becomes uncomfortable and makes breathing or eating difficult, the fluid may be removed by inserting a needle into the abdomen. This procedure is called therapeutic paracentesis. In such cases, the chances of fluid re-accumulating are high, unless you follow a low-sodium diet and take diuretics. Albumin may also be given intravenously, as a large amount of it is usually lost from the blood into the abdominal fluid.

If other Ascites treatments are not effective or if the fluid gets accumulated frequently, you may need a portosystemic shunt or liver transplantation. The portosystemic shunt will connect the portal vein or one of its branches and thus bypass the liver. However, the procedure is an invasive procedure and it can lead to problems, like deterioration of liver function.  

If you have been diagnosed with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, you will be given antibiotics. As the initial infection often reoccurs within a year, a different antibiotic will be given after the infection is resolved to prevent it from recurring again.

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About Sonam S. Junior   Professional Writer

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Joined APSense since, July 24th, 2018, From New Delhi, India.

Created on Feb 24th 2019 23:53. Viewed 463 times.


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