Ascites involves the accumulation of abnormal fluid within the abdomen. This is a common issue among individuals with liver cirrhosis. Around 80% of individuals with liver cirrhosis end up with ascites.
It is important to note that ascites is the outcome of a sequence of events. Liver cirrhosis is the usual cause. Once cirrhosis develops, the flow of blood via the liver is obstructed. The blockage results to a rise in the pressure in the main vein that transports blood from the digestive organs to the liver which is called portal hypertension.
Ascites develops once portal hypertension occurs. The kidneys could not eliminate enough sodium or salt via the urine. Inability to eliminate salt from the body results to the accumulation of fluids in the abdomen.
Generally, individuals with ascites develop a large-sized abdomen along with rapid weight gain. In some cases, there is swelling of the ankles as well as shortness of breath.
The usual risk factors include ailments that lead to liver cirrhosis such as:
- Hepatitis C
- Hepatitis B
- Alcoholism/alcohol abuse
Other conditions that can lead to the buildup of fluid include kidney failure and congestive heart failure. In some cases, cancer that affect the abdominal organs can also lead to the condition.
Management of ascites
A vital point in the treatment of ascites is to reduce the amount of salt in the diet. An important step in managing ascites is to considerably lower the intake of salt.
The recommended limit is 2000 mg or less in a day. A nutritionist should be consulted since the salt content in foods are hard to determine. Salt substitutes especially those that include potassium can be utilized.
Oftentimes, diuretics might be given to manage the condition. These pills must be taken as prescribed. The commonly used diuretics include furosemide and/or spironolactone. These water pills can trigger issues with the electrolytes and kidney function. Remember that taking these water pills is not a substitute for lowering the salt intake since both are needed as treatment.