Ascites - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of ascites?

There may be no symptoms associated with ascites especially if it is mild (usually less than about 100 400 ml in adults). As more fluid accumulates, increased abdominal girth and size are commonly seen. Abdominal pain, discomfort, and bloating are also frequently seen as ascites becomes larger. Shortness of breath can also happen with large ascites due to increased pressure on the diaphragm and the migration of the fluid across the diaphragm causing pleural effusions (fluid around the lungs). A cosmetically disfiguring large belly, due to ascites, is also a common concern of some patients.

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Comment from: RussB, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: October 28

Besides the stomach bloat and pain I have had problems with vomiting. I have a bad heart and other problems so it took my doctor a while to figure out why I could not keep food down. At the initial 6 months of the ascites I was puking up almost everything I ate about every other day. I lost 55 pounds which was nice but any more wasn't. In the beginning, the treatment was draining the fluid. They took out 3 liters and I felt so much better. Now I am on two water pills and it helps a lot. If I miss a day of medications like today, I will lose my dinner again.

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Comment from: D.M., 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 03

My ascites was the result of stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It came on over a two week period until I looked about 7 months pregnant. It was the last symptom leading to my diagnosis. A tube attached to a drainage bag was inserted into my abdomen. I wore the bag for 4 months, emptying it twice a day. In the first month alone we hit 22 liters as the lymphatic fluid was rampant. It took a couple of rounds of chemotherapy before there started to be a decrease in its accumulation and by the end of treatment I went back to normal. I have had no re-occurrence of either the ascites or the lymphoma, and live life to the fullest.

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