A swollen abdomen is the primary symptom of ascites, resulting from a buildup of fluid around the abdominal organs, states Healthgrades. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, abdominal pain, yellowing of whites of the eyes and skin and ankle swelling.
Ascites is a condition that typically results from a malfunctioning liver, causing fluid to accumulate between the body organs and the lining of the abdomen, explains Healthline. Liver disease can cause permanent liver scarring, which restricts the flow of blood in the liver, causing increased pressure in the portal vein, or portal hypertension, notes Healthgrades. Blood backs up, and fluid leaks into the abdominal cavity, causing hemorrhage and swollen veins in the esophagus. Patients with liver disease, histories of hepatitis, and symptoms such as diarrhea, fatigue and weakness should seek immediate medical care.
Risk factors of ascites include salt and water retention, kidney or heart failure, and obstruction of the portal vessel from a tumor or clot formation, according to MedicineNet.
Treatments include diuretics to increase the amount of water and salt leaving the body and reduce pressure in the veins around the liver, paracentesis to remove excess fluid, and surgery in severe cases, reports Healthline. Patients can lower the risks of ascites by practicing safe sex, getting hepatitis B vaccination and avoiding intravenous drug use.