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How do you treat ascites?

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Quick Answer

Treatment options for ascites include diuretics, paracentesis and surgery, according to Healthline. Doctors may recommend liver transplant if the ascites does not respond to treatment. Treatment options also include lifestyle changes.

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Full Answer

Doctors may prescribe diuretics or water pills to get rid of the extra fluid, according to MedlinePlus. Diuretics relieve pressure within the veins of the liver and treat the cause of ascites.

Paracentesis is a procedure in which a doctor inserts a thin, long tube into the belly to remove excess fluid. Since insertion of the tube occurs through the skin, there is risk of infection, and doctors may prescribe antibiotics, states Healthline. This is the most common treatment procedure if cancer is the cause of the ascites as diuretics do not work as well in cancer patients. This is because liver damage is not the cause of fluid buildup in cancer patients.

In extreme cases, the doctor may perform surgery in which he implants a tube called a shunt into the body, reports Healthline. This tube reroutes blood flow to the liver. In end-stage liver disease, doctors may recommend a liver transplant.

Lifestyle changes that treat fluid buildup include avoiding alcohol and limiting fluid intake. The patient may also have to reduce his salt intake to no more than 1500 milligrams of sodium a day.

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