All About Ascites and Liver Cirrhosis

Learn all about the connection between liver cirrhosis and ascites in our latest blog!

What is Ascites?

Ascites is a medical term used to refer to the free abdominal fluid that can accumulate in the belly of cirrhotic individuals. This fluid buildup in the abdomen usually results from increased pressure across the blood vessels that travel across the diseased liver. It’s commonly recognized by a person’s tense and distended abdomen. It can accompany other symptoms, such as abdominal discomfort, pain, difficulty breathing, and fatigue. Early detection can be vital to improving the quality of life for those afflicted with ascites. If you or someone you know has cirrhosis and begins to exhibit abdominal dis tension and rapid weight gain, it’s important to get checked by a physician as soon as possible.

Photo depicting abdominal paracentesis.

Why do Liver Cirrhosis Patients Face Ascites?

A tricky and unfortunate symptom of liver cirrhosis is ascites. Approximately 70% of liver cirrhosis patients end up developing ascites. It happens as a result of lowered albumin production and exacerbated pressure in the vessels of the liver. In cirrhosis, scarring and inflammation damage the cells required to produce albumin, leading to a buildup of free abdominal fluid. This free abdominal fluid, known as ascites, can be incredibly uncomfortable for patients with liver cirrhosis. bdominal fluid can prove dangerous if left untreated, resulting in complications such as infection.

Luckily there are treatment options available. Doctors typically perform an ultrasound to determine the amount of fluid and remove the fluid with the aid of medications called diuretics and low salt diet depending on the severity. Sometimes the fluid must be removed by a suction procedure called a paracentesis.  In more severe cases, a shunt or fluid bypass procedure may be  needed. Most of the time, ascites symptoms can be managed with proper medical attention.

Your liver can heal from earlier stages of liver disease.

Looking for a way to be proactive about your liver health? Learn more about Hepatic Encephalopathy studies at Impact Research Institute or call us at (254) 294-4780 with your questions!



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