Maybe you don’t think too much about that expanding waistline -- other than knowing you should lose a few pounds. Your doctor may have urged you to cut down on alcohol and eat fewer goodies.
But there could be more to it.
Ascites is usually accompanied by a feeling of fullness, a ballooning belly, and rapid weight gain. Other symptoms often include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in legs and ankles
- Loss of appetite
Ascites happens when pressure builds up in the veins of your liver and it doesn’t work as it should. These two problems usually are caused by another condition -- cirrhosis, heart or kidney failure, cancer, or an infection.
If he thinks you have ascites, your doctor will use a needle to remove fluid from your abdomen for testing. This procedure is called a paracentesis. It will help your doctor determine the cause of your condition, so it can be properly treated.
In most cases of ascites, your doctor will refer you to a liver specialist, who may discuss a liver transplant.
Since ascites prevents the flushing of salt through your pee, the first step is to cut down on the salt you eat, by a lot. Your doctor also may prescribe “water pills,” also called diuretics, to help flush the extra fluid from your body.
Two of the most common diuretics are:
They both help your kidneys remove more sodium and water.
If change in diet and prescription diuretics aren’t effective, or your symptoms are severe, your doctor may have to use paracentesis to remove large amounts of excess fluid through a needle inserted into your abdomen. This procedure must be combined with a low-salt, low-liquid diet, otherwise the fluid will simply come back.
If these treatments don’t work, you may need a surgery to place a shunt in your liver or replace it altogether.