Ascites is the accumulation of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity. This condition can be treated, so if you think you have ascites, contact your doctor.
Ascites is usually caused by liver disorders, including:
It can also be caused by:
These factors increase your chance of developing ascites. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to ascites. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include the following:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Diuretic medications are drugs that cause the kidneys to excrete more sodium and water in the urine. These medications are often recommended as the treatment of choice for ascites, along with sodium restriction.
Examples of diurectics include:
Ascites can be treated by inserting a hollow needle into the abdomen and removing excess fluid through the needle.
If the other treatments are not effective and the ascites keep coming back, surgery can be done to divert blood away from the liver.
If you are diagnosed with ascites, follow your doctor's instructions .
To decrease the risk of ascites, take the following steps to prevent cirrhosis, the most common cause of ascites:
If you have had ascites, you can prevent their reoccurrence by:
American Liver Foundation
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Liver Foundation
Ascites. DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Accessed January 28, 2009.
Ascites. Merck website. Available at: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec10/ch135/ch135e.html . Accessed January 28, 2009.
Cesario K, Carey WD. Ascites. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/diseasemanagement/gastro/ascites/ascites.htm . Accessed January 28, 2009.
Last reviewed January 2009 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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