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- High blood pressure in the portal venous system, which can be caused by:
- Malnutrition or other conditions leading to low amounts of protein in the blood
- Certain cancers
- Infections, such as certain bacteria and parasites or tuberculosis that can invade the abdomen
- Kidney disease
- Abdominal leakage of lymph fluid
- Increased abdominal circumference
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain and/or distention
- Pain on the side of the abdomen
- Rapid weight gain
- Difficulty breathing while lying flat
- Decreased appetite
- Sodium restriction—Limiting salt intake to 2,000 mg per day or less is often recommended to reduce or delay fluid build-up. More extreme restrictions in salt intake do not further improve outcomes.
- Fluid restriction—if sodium level is too low.
- Alcohol restriction—Ascites commonly occurs in people who have liver disease. Consuming excess alcohol can further impair liver function. Stopping alcohol use may limit the progression of ascites.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation. This means no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.
- Practice safe sex to avoid hepatitis.
- Do not share IV needles.
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis B.
- If you are taking medications that can damage your liver, follow your doctor's instructions closely.
American Liver Foundation http://www.liverfoundation.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases http://www.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Liver Foundation http://www.liver.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Alcohol-induced liver disease. Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/alcohol. Updated October 4, 2011. Accessed June 25, 2013.
Ascites. DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 13, 2014. Accessed June 16, 2014.
Cirrhosis. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/liver-disease/cirrhosis/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated February 21, 2013. Accessed June 25, 2013.
Runyon BA. Care of patients with ascites. N Engl J Med. 1994;330(5):337-342.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2015 -
- Update Date: 05/16/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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