Ascites: What is it? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
There are different organs present in the abdomen, these organs are covered with 2 membranous layers. One of which covers the organs and other one is present in the inner side of the abdominal wall.These two layers provides smooth movement to the organ in order to protect them from any kind of friction, as between both the layers there is an amount of fluid to provide lubrication.This fluid filled cavity of the two membranous layer is called peritoneal cavitySometimes fluid builds up between these two layers, causing the abdomen to swell whichcan be very uncomfortable.This condition is known as Ascites.
The accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal or abdominal cavity can be the result of many complications, including liver disease, kidney failure, cancer, and heart failure.
Symptoms of Ascites
The fluid causes swelling, which can make your stomach feel tight and very uncomfortable. It often develops within a few weeks but can appear within a few days.
The fluid puts pressure on other organs in the abdomen and can cause:
- Tightening of clothes
- Stomach ache
- Back pain
- Difficulty in sitting and moving around
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent urination
- Fatigue and weakness
- Feeling sick
Causes of Ascites
Cirrhosis (chronic liver damage) is the most common cause of ascites. It is the most common manifestation in patients with cirrhosis and is associated with decreased survival rate. Approximately 55% of cirrhosis patients have underlying ascites.
Other conditions that can cause ascites are-
- Portal hypertension (High blood pressure in the liver)
- Decreased albumin levels of the blood
- Salt retention in the blood
- Water retention in blood
- Congestive heart failure
- Advanced kidney failure
- Tumors in abdominal cavity
- Blood clots in the portal veins
- Cancers such as malignant ascites, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, lung cancer or ovarian cancer.
- Chronic inflammation of pancreas
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Pancreas trauma
- Low protein diet
- Hepatitis (Inflammation of the liver)
How to prevent Ascites?
Ascites can be prevented by the following precautions-
- Reduced consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
- Limit salt intake in your diet.
- Avoid recreational drugs.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get regular exercise
Treatment for Ascites
- Body weight is used as a measure of ascites control. The goal of diuretic therapy is to lose between one and two pounds a day, depending on your underlying condition. After most of the ascites fluid has disappeared, the dose of the drug is adjusted individually according to the patient's needs.
- Water restriction may be considered if hyponatremia (low serum sodium level) is present.
- In some cases, the surgeon may place a permanent tube called a shunt inside the body. It directs blood flow around the liver, reducing the need for regular drainage. A shunt may be appropriate if diuretics do not help.
- Your doctor may recommend a liver transplant if ascites don't respond to treatment and you have severe liver disease.
- If ascites is theresult of heart failure, surgery may be necessary.
- Paracentesis - In this procedure, the doctor uses a long thin needle to remove excess fluid from the abdomen. They insert a needle through the skin and into the abdominal cavity.You may need this if you have severe or recurrent ascites, or if your symptoms do not improve with diuretics.
Home Remedies for Ascites
Garlic is a natural herb that has many healing properties. Regular use of this herb reduces the sensitivity and swelling associated with ascites. It also has anti-cancer properties that reduce unwanted cell growth.
How to Use - Take out the juice of three to four cloves of garlic. Consume half a teaspoon of this juice on an empty stomach. You can also chop the garlic into small pieces and take it in the morning on an empty stomach with a glass of water.
Ginger is considereda natural diuretic that removes excess water from the body. This water is excreted in the form of urine. Ginger also helps to naturally cureedema.
How to Use - Make herbal ginger tea by crushing fresh ginger. Now put two glasses of water in it. Boil it, strain the water, and add honey to enhance the taste. Drink this warm herbal tea once or twice a day.
Radish is a vegetable that is good for all kinds of liver diseases, acting as a natural detoxifier. It is considered the best solution for the ascites problem.
How to Use - Make fresh radish juice, if it is too strong then add a little water. Drink this juice once a day on an empty stomach. This juice will relieve the problem of ascites.
Onion is an herb known for its healing properties. It is a natural diuretic that helps to remove excess fluid and flush toxins from the body in the form of urine.
How to Use - You can prepare fresh onion juice and drink a teaspoon of onion juice twice a day on an empty stomach.You can also add onions to your dish.Eat raw onions as they are good for your health.
Fenugreek is said to exhibit hepatoprotective as well as anti-cancer properties. This herb reduces inflammation, swelling, pain and removes free radicals from the body.
How to Use - Soaka teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight.Strain the mixture, drink this water in the morning on an empty stomach.This water is good for yourhealth.
Punarnava is a wonderful herb for patients with ascites due to its diuretic and expectorant effects on the body. This herb is good for health.
How to Use - Take the roots of Punarnava herb and make a fine powder of it. Store this powder in a container. Take a teaspoon of this concoction with a glass of warm water.
Horsegram is an effective home remedy for ascites. It contains less sodium, which helps to remove excess fluid that has accumulated in the stomach.
How to Use - Take half a cup of horsegram, wash it and soak it in water overnight.In the morning, rinse withwater, boil the horsegram in a pressure cooker for ten minutes. Then, in a saucepan, roast the black pepper, tomatoes, and garlic for a few minutes and add them to the horsegram mixture.Once cool, make a paste out of it. Add some fresh coriander. Then heat the soup for a few minutes. Take this hot soup once a day.
When to visit a doctor?
Call your doctor immediatelyif you have-
- Fever above 100.5 °F (38.05 °C)
- Stomach ache
- Blood in the stools or dark black stools
- Blood in your vomit
- Bruising or bleeding
- Accumulation of fluid in the stomach
- Swollen feet or ankles
- Problem in breathing