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High blood pressure in the liver's portal venous system, which can be caused by:
- Liver damage called cirrhosis (most common cause)
- Heart failure
- Blockage of the large vein in the abdomen called the vena cava
- Malnutrition or other conditions leading to low amounts of protein in the blood
- Certain cancers
- Infections, such as certain bacteria and parasites, or tuberculosis that can invade the abdomen
- Kidney disease
- Abdominal leakage of lymph fluid
- Increased abdominal girth
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain and/or distention
- Pain on the side of the abdomen
- Rapid weight gain
- Difficulty breathing while lying flat
- Decreased appetite
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Liver biopsy
- Abdominal paracentesis
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Sodium restriction—Limiting salt intake to 2,000 mg (milligrams) per day or fewer is often recommended to reduce or delay fluid buildup. More extreme restrictions in salt intake do not help.
- Fluid restriction—If sodium level is too low.
- Alcohol restriction—Ascites commonly occurs in people who have liver disease. Consuming excess alcohol can further impair liver function. Stopping alcohol use may limit the progression of ascites.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation. This means no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 per day for men.
- Practice safe sex to avoid hepatitis.
- Do not share IV needles.
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis B.
- If you are taking medications that can damage your liver, follow your doctor's instructions closely.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2016
- Update Date: 05/16/2014