The abdomen is contained in a sac or membrane called the peritoneum. Normally this cavity contains a small amount of fluid. Ascites refers to a medical condition associated with accumulation of fluid in peritoneal cavity, between the linings of the internal organs.
The fluid accumulation may result from liver disorders, abdominal cancer and/or tuberculosis. Ascites is caused due to high pressure in the liver veins that blocks the flow of blood in liver and preventing the kidneys to excrete excess electrolytes from blood.
Individuals with any liver disorder such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, kidney diseases and alcohol abuse are more likely to develop ascites. Ascites poses the risk of developing inguinal hernia, making the patients susceptible to bacterial infection and also increases the accumulation of fluid in lungs leading to breathing difficulties.
- Weight gain
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, vomiting and indigestion
- Inflammation in legs and ankles
- Abdominal pain
Diagnosis And Treatment
A complete physical examination and certain blood tests, CT Scan and ultrasound are recommended by physician to diagnose ascites.
Treatment for ascites aims to treat the underlying cause. Diuretics are recommended to reduce the blood pressure in liver veins. In severe cases, paracentesis is recommended. Paracentesis is the method to remove the excess fluid from abdominal cavity with help of needle. To prevent any bacterial infections, antibiotics are given. Surgical treatments are recommended for patients who do not get relief from any of the above-mentioned treatments. Implantation of shunt to channel the blood flow around liver is done to relieve the symptoms. It is advised to avoid alcohol intake and cut the salt proportion in food to prevent higher blood pressure.