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What is Ascites?

Ascites is a medical condition that is characterized by accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. Abdominal cavity is the space between the tissues lining the abdomen and abdominal organs. The most common cause of ascites is liver cirrhosis. There are two main factors that cause ascites: low albumin level in the blood and portal hypertension. Firstly, low levels of albumin in the blood causes a change in the pressure that is required to prevent fluid exchange, which allows fluid to seep out of the blood vessels. Secondly, ascites may be caused by portal hypertension, which refers to an increase in the pressure within the branches of the portal vein that run through the liver. Blood that cannot flow through the liver because of the increased pressure will eventually leak into the abdomen and cause ascites. Severe ascites can lead to progressive abdominal heaviness and pressure, as well as shortness of breath.

Medical Specialties and Clinical Interests

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Ascites?

Signs and symptoms of Ascites may include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Burping
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Wheezing

What Causes Ascites?

Possible causes of Ascites are:

What Increases the Risk of Ascites?

The risk of Ascites increases when you/your:

What Complications Can Ascites Cause?

Ascites may result in the following complications:

How Can You Prevent Ascites?

Ascites can be prevented if you/your:

  • Abstain from alcohol
  • Control your daily salt intake
  • Have protected sex

What Treatments are Available for Ascites?

Treatments and management of Ascites may vary depending on the individual patient and the severity of the medical condition. Treatment options may include:

  • Diuretics
  • Liver Transplant
  • Paracentesis
  • Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunting
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