– What is the meaning of ascites?
– What are the risk factors for this condition?
Ascites refers to the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. The organs of the abdomen are contained in a sac or membrane called the peritoneum or peritoneal cavity.
The peritoneal cavity or peritoneum in mammals is the serous membrane (a thin membrane that secretes serum or fluid) lining the cavity of the abdomen.This peritoneum is folded over the viscera.
In a normal situation, the peritoneal cavity contains only a small amount of fluid, but when there is an increase in fluid or fluid build-up, ascites is at hand.
Ascites is the build-up of fluid in the space between the lining of the abdomen and abdominal organs. Also, this excess fluid in the abdomen makes your belly swell or protrude.
There are certain risk factors and causes of this fluid build-up. Some of them include the following;
1. Liver damage happens to be the biggest risk factor for ascites.
2. Also, diseases that can cause severe liver damage can lead to ascites.
3. Low levels of protein (albumin) in the body is a risk factor for this condition.
4. The improper functioning of the liver is also a risk factor.
5. High pressure that occurs to the blood vessels of the liver is also a cause.
6. Some illnesses also cause an excess accumulation of water and sodium in the body.
7. Certain cancers are also suspected to contribute to the accumulation of excess fluid. Colon cancer, cancer of the ovaries, pancreas, and liver cancers are risk factors.
The symptoms of ascites can either be mild or severe, some symptoms also occur suddenly without any prior notice. the common symptoms of this condition include;
- Shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing especially while in a sleeping position.
- Swelling of the abdomen or a protruding belly.
- Nausea and vomiting are also symptoms.
- Loss of appetite.
- Indigestion and bloating will also occur.
Doctors diagnose ascites through MRIs, CT scans, ultrasound, blood tests, laparoscopy, and angiography. However, the treatments of ascites depend on its cause, seeing a medical doctor is advisable.
The doctor, after diagnosis, will be able to prescribe the correct type of treatment that the patient requires.