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What is ascites?

Ascites is a bodily disorder caused due to the build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity. This fluid can also travel to the chest cavity and cause difficulty in breathing, by putting pressure on the diaphragm, which then presses on the lungs. Ascites can set the stage for an infection in your abdomen.

Types of ascites

There are two main types of ascites: uncomplicated and refractory.

Uncomplicated Ascites:

In this type, the fluids are not infected.

This type is broken into three levels:

  • Grade 1: Mild; an ultrasound is required to detect fluids
  • Grade 2: Moderate; symmetrical distention and swelling of the abdomen occurs
  • Grade 3: Severe; large or extreme distention of the abdomen occurs

Refractory Ascites:

When fluid buildup cannot be reduced by a low sodium diet or diuretics, it is considered refractory, meaning that more aggressive treatment may be required.

Ascites can occur in children where it is most commonly associated with liver, kidney and heart disorders. The symptoms are similar to those found in adults and treatment is similar.

What causes ascites?

The most common cause of ascites is cirrhosis of the liver. Drinking too much alcohol is one of the most common causes of cirrhosis of the liver. Different types of cancer can also cause this condition. Ascites caused by cancer most often occur with advanced or recurrent cancer. Ascites may also be caused by other problems such as heart conditions, dialysis, low protein levels, and infection.

Symptoms of ascites

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid weight gain
  • A feeling of fullness
  • Large belly develops quickly
  • Swelling in the ankles and legs
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Hernia
  • Abdominal distention with mild to moderate discomfort
  • Painful abdominal distention
  • Jaundice
  • Muscle wasting
  • Fever

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with our doctors' if you're having painful abdominal distention and you don't know why.

Painful abdominal distention has many causes besides ascites, so don't assume that if you're having painful abdominal distention it must be ascites.

Risk factors of ascites

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Low protein diet
  • History of jaundice
  • History of chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • Obesity
  • Hyperlipidemia ( high cholesterol)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Cardiac disease
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Kidney disease

How is ascites diagnosed?

The diagnosis of ascites is based on physical examination in conjunction with a detailed medical history to ascertain the possible underlying causes since ascites is often considered a nonspecific symptom for other diseases. It is done by taking Fluid sample or Imaging, If ascites fluid is greater than 500ml, it can be demonstrated on physical examination by bulging flanks and fluid waves performed by the doctor examining the abdomen. Smaller amounts of fluid may be detected by an ultrasound of the abdomen, MRI, or a CT scan. Occasionally, ascites is found incidentally by an ultrasound or a CT scan done for evaluating other conditions.

Treatment for ascites

Treatment for ascites will depend on whats causing the condition.

Medications treat

Hepatocare syrup, Hepa-Yash capsules, Verzan capsules, Cleanves capsules, Milax tea, Renal tea and VHC drug are used to treat ascites and are effective for most people with the condition. These drugs increase the amount of salt and water leaving your body, which reduces pressure within the veins around the liver. While youre on drugs, our doctors' will monitor your blood chemistry. Youll probably need to stop your alcohol, hot spices, oily, fatty, fried food use and salt intake.

Para- or abdominalcentesis

In this procedure, a thin, long needle is used to remove the excess fluid. Its inserted through the skin and into the abdominal cavity. Theres a risk of infection, so people who undergo paracentesis may be prescribed antibiotics. This treatment is most commonly used when the ascites is severe or recurrent.

Surgery

In extreme cases, a permanent tube called a shunt is implanted in the body. It reroutes blood flow around the liver. Our doctors' may recommend a liver transplant if ascites doesnt respond to treatment. This is generally used for end-stage liver disease.

How to prevent ascites

Youll probably need to stop your alcohol, hot spices, oily, fatty, fried food use and salt intake.

Certain steps to help you avoid cirrhosis of the liver and cancer can prevent ascites.

These include:

  • Stop drinking alcohol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Limit salt in your diet.
  • Practice safe sex to decrease your chance of getting hepatitis.
  • Do not use recreational drugs to decrease your chance of getting hepatitis.

Natural Ways to Manage Symptoms

Restrict Salt

Salt restriction is associated with a lower diuretic requirement, faster resolution of ascites and shorter hospitalization for those with cirrhotic ascites.

Eat More, Smaller Meals

Try a recipe for a high protein smoothie and dive into a nutrient-dense high-protein Buddha bowl for dinner. Some individuals may benefit by obtaining protein from plant sources including nutritional yeast, ancient grains, vegetables, legumes and dairy products instead of meat.

Avoid Toxins and Chemicals

Eat organic whenever possible as when the liver is damaged and not functioning optimally, it cannot properly detoxify and clear toxins from the blood. As it builds up, the toxins can move to the brain causing a condition called hepatic encephalopathy.

Drink Coconut Water

High in potassium and other electrolytes, coconut water can help you stay properly hydrated even when on a liquid-restricted protocol.

Takeaway

Ascites cant be prevented. However, you can lower your risk of ascites by protecting your liver.

Try adopting these healthy habits:

  • Get vaccinated for hepatitis B.
  • Practice having sex with a condom. Hepatitis can be sexually transmitted.
  • Avoid sharing needles. Hepatitis can be transmitted through shared needles.
  • Know the potential side effects of your medications. If liver damage is a risk, talk to your doctor about whether your liver function should be tested.

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