What Causes Fluid to Develop in the Abdomen?


Quick Answer

Abdominal fluid build up, or ascites, is primarily caused by liver damage, according to Healthline. Causes of liver damage include hepatitis B or C, cirrhosis and alcohol use history. Hypothyroidism, pancreatitis, heart or kidney failure, tuberculosis and certain cancers may increase the risk of developing ascites.

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Full Answer

Ascites symptoms include a distended abdomen, nausea, vomiting, sudden weight gain and heartburn, explains Healthline. Trouble breathing while lying down, decreased appetite and abdominal pain are additional symptoms of ascites.

The diagnosis of ascites is a multi-step process that begins with a physical examination to confirm the abdomen is swollen, advises Healthline. The doctor then employs additional testing methods, including ultrasounds, computed tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging, blood tests and laparoscopy.

Treatment options vary based on the cause of the condition, notes Healthline. Diuretics are often used to minimize the pressure in the veins near the liver. The doctor may monitor the patient's blood chemistry while he is on diuretics and salt and alcohol intake is limited during the treatment. Paracentisis is another ascites treatment, and it requires the insertion of a long, thin needle into the abdominal cavity. Surgery, which implants a permanent shunt into the body to reroute blood flow around the liver, is required for extreme ascite cases.

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