First Time User? Enroll now.
As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, our visitor policy is evolving as well. Get full details.
For the most current information, please visit our Coronavirus resource pages.
Home > Health Library > Ascites and Liver Disease
Ascites is the buildup of fluid in the abdomen. The extra fluid can cause your belly to swell and make it hard to breathe. Ascites can be a complication of other health problems, such as liver disease and some cancers.
Treatment for ascites may include eating a low-salt diet, taking medicines, and having paracentesis therapy.
You may need to reduce your sodium intake by eating less salt. You'll feel better and will lower your risk of complications.
Sodium adds to the problem of ascites by causing your body to retain water. It increases fluid buildup in your belly as well as your legs and lungs. Aside from being uncomfortable, this fluid buildup can lead to trouble breathing, infection, and other problems.
Limiting sodium in your diet helps prevent your body from retaining extra fluid. Eating less sodium doesn't have to be hard, but you do have to think about it. Salt is in many foods, so limiting your salt intake means more than just not using the salt shaker. Packaged (processed) foods and restaurant foods are usually quite high in salt.
You may want to visit with a dietitian to help you get started or to find more ways to cut down on salt and eat a healthy diet.
Diuretic medicines, such as spironolactone and furosemide, can help get rid of fluid that has built up in the belly and other parts of the body. These medicines can help both prevent and treat problems with ascites. Your doctor may prescribe a diuretic for you to take over the long term.
Paracentesis is a procedure used to collect and remove some of the fluid to help determine what is causing it to build up. Having ascites may lead to:
Paracentesis therapy may be used if you:
Current as of:
September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineW. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.