What are ascites?

Ascites are an accumulation of too much fluid in the abdomen (belly). The fluid may move into the chest and surround the lungs. This in turn causes shortness of breath (dyspnea).

Ascites may be painful. It may restrict your movement. Sometimes it is an indication of stomach infection. It often occurs in people who have liver cirrhosis (liver scarring). It can also occur when cancer spreads to the liver.

How bad are my ascites?

Mild: Swelling in the abdomen, weight gain, nausea and vomiting.

Moderate: Bloating, indigestion and sense of heaviness. It may require medical assistance.

Severe: Shortness of breath (Dyspnea), fever that does not go away and belly pain. Blood in stool or vomit or black, tarry stools, bruising and confusion.

How to manage mild ascites?

Keep track of ascites using Ankr (myAnkr web portal or the Ankr app). It will help you describe the severity to your doctor or nurse.

  • Weigh yourself daily. Call your healthcare provider if you gain more than 10 pounds, or more than two pounds per day for three consecutive days.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ibuprofen (Motrin® and Advil®) and aspirin, affect your kidneys. They can cause your body to retain excess water and salt.
  • Stick to a low-sodium diet. Not more than 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams per day.
  • Limit fluid intake.
How to manage moderate and severe ascites?

Call your health care provider right away if you have:

  • Fever above 100.5°F (38.05°C), or a fever that does not go away
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Blood in your stool or black, tarry stools
  • Blood in your vomit
  • Bruising or bleeding that occurs easily
  • Build-up of fluid in your belly
  • Swollen legs or ankles
  • Breathing problems
  • Confusion or problems staying awake
  • Yellow color in your skin and the whites of your eyes (Jaundice)
What causes ascites?

It can happen when cancer spreads to the liver. You are more likely to develop ascites if you have one of these cancers:

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