Liver disease causes the liver to function with less efficiency. The result is that fluids begin to build up in the liver. Over time, the pressure of this additional fluid begins to leak out into the belly. There is a layer of tissue in the belly that has two sheets. This tissue is the peritoneum and covers the stomach, kidneys, bowels and liver. When fluid collects between these two sheets it is called ascites.
Cirrhosis of the liver is responsible for approximately 80% of all cases of ascites.
Symptoms of ascites include swollen ankles, digestive disorders of constipation, pain and indigestion, back pain, fatigue and being short of breath.
Treatment for ascites can includes a CT scan and the extraction of the collected fluid in a procedure called paracenteses. Patients will begin a restricted salt diet and may also take a diuretic. A healthy lifestyle, diet and weight management while restricting alcohol consumption can help reduce complications of ascites.