Ascites (say "uh-SY-teez") is a buildup of extra fluid in the belly. It can cause your belly to swell. It can also make it hard for you to breathe.
Many diseases can cause ascites. But most people who get it have a liver problem. When the liver gets damaged, it can cause fluid to back up from the liver or from blood vessels. Then this fluid builds up in the belly.
Your doctor may take a sample of the fluid in your belly with a thin needle. The sample is then tested to help find out the cause of the ascites.
Treatment may include medicine. It may also include changing the way you eat so you don't eat a lot of salt. If your ascites is very bad and hard to treat, your doctor may need to use a needle to take out the fluid.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
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Current as of: August 9, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.