What is Ascities?

This condition is characterized by a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity, specifically within the peritoneal cavity that is located within the abdomen and the abdominal organs. A few of the most common signs of Ascites include swelling in the abdomen and the ankles, an increase in weight gain and also shortness of breath.


Symptoms may develop slowly or suddenly depending on the cause. You may have no symptoms if there is only a small amount of fluid in the belly.

As more fluid collects, you may have abdominal pain and bloating. Large amounts of fluid can cause shortness of breath.


Your doctor will do a physical exam to determine the amount of swelling in your belly. Your doctor may order lab tests to assess your liver and kidneys. Your doctor may also use a needle to withdraw fluid from your belly. The fluid is then tested to look for the cause of ascites.


The condition that causes ascites will be treated, if possible.

Treatments for fluid build-up may include lifestyle changes:

  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Lowering salt in your diet (no more than 1,500 mg/day of sodium)
  • Limiting fluid intake
  • You may also get medicines from your doctor including:
    • “Water pills” (diuretics) to get rid of extra fluid
    • Antibiotics for infections
  • Procedures that you may have are:
    • Inserting a tube into the belly to remove large volumes of fluid (called paracentesis)
    • Placing a shunt or tube inside your belly (TIPS) to repair flow to the liver.


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