Ascites is abnormal accumulation of fluid in abdominal (peritoneal) cavity. At least 80 percent of ascites is caused due to cirrhosis of liver. The rest 20 percent of patients may develop ascites due to other reasons such as pancreatic cancer, peritoneal infection, severe abdominal trauma, cardiac failure, hepatitis, intestinal tuberculosis etc.
Ascites can be mild or severe. Mild form does not produce any significant symptoms. However, extensive pathological accumulation of fluid in abdominal cavity is noticeable due to distension of abdomen and increased abdominal girth. Besides eversion of umbilicus there are many more associated symptoms with ascites.It can be transudative or exudative ascites depending on the amount of protein present in the fluid.
Ascites can be chronic as observed in cirrohosis of liver or can be temporary as seen in certain curable infections. Treatment consists of dietary restriction of salt intake, use of diuretics, and in massive ascites removal of fluid from abdominal cavity with the help of needle.
What Are The Causes Of Ascites?
Cirrhosis of liver remains the most common cause of ascites. Underlying liver pathology is found in nearly eighty percent of patients suffering from ascites. The most accepted theory in the pathogenesis of ascites caused due to cirrhosis is increased pressure of blood flow in liver with decreased amount of circulating protein.Retention of salt and water in the system increases ascetic fluid volume.
Ascites also develops in patients suffering from kidney failure, congestive cardiac failure, stomach and intestinal cancers, pancreatitis, obstruction in portal vein due to tumor or a clot etc. Certain infections such as hepatitis, intestinal tuberculosis, dengue fever, pericarditis can also cause ascites. Cirrhosis and pancreatitis is often caused due to alcohol abuse which has ascites as one of its symptom.
Signs And Symptoms Of Ascites
Ascites is accumulation of abnormal amount of fluid in peritoneal cavity. Sometimes it can be missed on examination if the amount of fluid is minimal. With massive amount of fluid ascites is apparent even without examination by the doctor. Most common symptoms of ascites are:
- Distension of abdomen which is more marked in flanks.
- Increased abdominal girth.
- Shifting dullness on percussion especially when the patient is turned to one side.
- Heaviness in abdomen.
- Breathlessness on slightest exertion.
- Accumulation of fluid in lungs.
- Swelling in scrotum and legs.
- Umbilicus is pushed outside.
- Increase in weight.
- If the underlying cause is congestive cardiac failure, patient may be extremely fatigued, breathless, having wheezing sound in chest with enlarged abdomen.
Alternative Treatment For Ascites
Treatment of ascites needs step wise approach. Restriction of salt in diet is essential. Patient should restrict salt intake to less than 2 gm/day. In some cases fluid restriction is also advised by physician. Besides salt restriction, diuretics play a major role in flushing out excess of fluid from peritoneal cavity.
Antibiotics are recommended by physician if there is a source of infection in the body. Patient is also advised to abstain from alcohol. Patients suffering from massive ascites who do not respond to medical therapy may require removal of fluid from the peritoneum with large bore needle. The procedure involved is called paracentesis.
Aside from conventional medical treatment, natural therapies also help in reducing the amount of fluid from the peritonem.
- Radish: It is one of the best home remedies for ascites. Extract juice from radish leaves. Mix it with water. Drink this mixture daily for few days.
- Garlic: Mix one teaspoon of garlic juice in a glass of water. Drink the concoction on empty stomach. It helps to flush out fluid from the system.
- Fenugreek seeds: Soak a half teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in water and keep it overnight. Next morning strain the liquid and drink the water. Follow the produce daily till you find reduction in abdominal girth.
- Onions: Onion is considered to have mild diuretic properties. Mix one teaspoon of onion juice in water and drink the mixture daily. It has curative properties in patients having water retention.
- Avoid processed food as they are rich in salt. Instead eat healthy diet consisting of fresh vegetables, grains and cereals.
- Drink a glass of buttermilk after your meals. Prepare salad consisting raw radish, garlic and onion. Eat it with your meals.