Ascites is the accumulation of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity. AscitesCopyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Ascites can be caused by:
High blood pressure in the portal venous system, which can be caused by:
Liver damage called
— This is the most common cause of ascites.
- Heart failure
- Blockage of the large vein in the abdomen called the vena cava
- Malnutrition or other conditions leading to low amounts of protein in the blood
- Certain cancers
Infections, such as certain bacteria and parasites or
that can invade the abdomen
- Kidney disease
- Abdominal leakage of lymph fluid
Ascites is the accumulation of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity.
Ascites Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests to determine cause may include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Abdominal paracentesis
Imaging tests look for amount and distribution of fluid, and strctures inside abdomen. These may include:
- CT scan
To decrease the risk of ascites, take the following steps to prevent cirrhosis, the most common cause of ascites:
- Drink alcohol only in moderation. This means no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.
- Practice safe sex to avoid hepatitis.
- Do not share IV needles.
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis B.
- If you are taking medications that can damage your liver, follow your doctor's instructions closely.
Factors that increase your chance of ascites include having any of the conditions above.
Symptoms may include:
- Increased abdominal circumference
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain and/or distention
- Rapid weight gain
- Difficulty breathing while lying flat
- Decreased appetite
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include: