What is ascites?

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Ascites is when there is an accumulation of fluid inside of the abdominal cavity. This fluid is usually serous. Ascitic fluid is usually related to liver disease, heart failure, or kidney failure. The most common reason that people develop ascites is because of cirrhosis of the liver.

Ascites is classified in two different ways and it is based on albumin levels. There is ascites related to portal hypertension (most common) and ascites caused by other reasons.

Symptoms of ascites may vary depending on the amount of fluid that has accumulated inside the abdominal cavity. If there is little fluid, there may be no symptoms at all. Once there is a significant amount of fluid, symptoms may include abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, or shortness of breath.

Treatments vary depending on the cause but they may include diet management and certain medications such as diuretics.

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dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Ascites is a generalized edema of the peritoneal cavity an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. It is caused by either an electrolyte disturbance, an excess of sodium (hypernatremia) or some anatomical obstruction of blood flow back to the right atrium of the heart as in congestive heart failure. A very common cause is cirrhosis of the liver, plasma proteins are lost which changes the osmotic pressure of cells and results in edema.

The biggest problem with ascites is that the accumulation of fluid may hinder the normal functioning of the diaphragm. The fluid exerts upward pressure and can make the act of breathing difficult.

Treatment is paracentesis to rid the peritoneal cavity of the excess fluid. Very large amounts of fluid can be taken off by paracentesis. It is not uncommon to see 1,000-1,500 ml of fluid taken off.

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thewriter | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Ascites is the accumulation of fluid in the space between the tissues lining the abdomen and abdominal organs, also called the peritoneal cavity.

Disorders associated with ascetis are tuberculosis, pancreatic cancer, protein-losing enteropathy, dialysis of the kidney, cirrhosis, clots in the veins of the liver, hepatitis, ovarian cancer, etc.

Complications due to ascites include:

  • Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis which is a life-threatening infection of the ascites fluid
  • Kidney failure
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Mental confusion
  • Other complications of liver cirrhosis

Treatment for ascites includes:

  • diuretics to help remove the fluid.
  • antibiotics
  • limiting the consumption of salt
  • not consuming alcohol

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