Ascites is a collection of excess fluid in the abdomen. Ascites can range from mild to severe. It can get worse without treatment.
What are the causes?
Possible causes include:
- This is the most common cause of ascites.
- Infection or inflammation in the abdomen.
- Cancer in the abdomen.
- Heart failure.
- Kidney disease.
- Inflammation of the pancreas.
- Clots in the veins of the liver.
What are the signs or symptoms?
Signs and symptoms may include:
- A feeling of fullness in your abdomen. This is common.
- An increase in the size of your abdomen or your waist.
- Swelling in your legs.
- Swelling of the scrotum in men.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Abdominal pain.
- Sudden weight gain.
If the condition is mild, you may not have symptoms.
How is this diagnosed?
To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will:
- Ask about your medical history.
- Perform a physical exam.
- Order imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan of your abdomen.
How is this treated?
Treatment depends on the cause of the ascites. It may include:
- Taking a pill to make you urinate. This is called a water pill (diuretic pill).
- Strictly reducing your salt (sodium) intake. Salt can cause extra fluid to be kept in the body, and this makes ascites worse.
- Having a procedure to remove fluid from your abdomen (paracentesis).
- Having a procedure to transfer fluid from your abdomen into a vein.
- Having a procedure that connects two of the major veins within your liver and relieves pressure on your liver (TIPS procedure).
Ascites may go away or improve with treatment of the condition that caused it.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Keep track of your weight. To do this, weigh yourself at the same time every day and record your weight.
- Keep track of how much you drink and any changes in the amount you urinate.
- Follow any instructions that your health care provider gives you about how much to drink.
- Try not to eat salty (high-sodium) foods.
- Take medicines only as directed by your health care provider.
- Keep all follow-up visits as directed by your health care provider. This is important.
- Report any changes in your health to your health care provider, especially if you develop new symptoms or your symptoms get worse.
Contact a health care provider if:
Your gain more than 3 pounds in 3 days
- Your abdominal size or your waist size increases.
- You have new swelling in your legs.
- The swelling in your legs gets worse.
Get help right away if:
- You develop a fever.
- You develop confusion.
- You develop new or worsening difficulty breathing.
- You develop new or worsening abdominal pain.
- You develop new or worsening swelling in the scrotum (in men)