[toc]Ascites is a relatively uncommon medical condition. Mild ascites normally has no associated symptoms. However, moderate to severe ascites leads to symptoms like distended abdomen due to increased fluid accumulation, pain in the abdominal region, increased fluid near lungs and consequent shortness of breath. Patient may also feel weak and fatigued with exertion.
Other symptoms include wheezing and swelling of lower extremities. Severity of ascites symptoms depends on the disease condition causing ascites. Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe in nature. Moderate to severe ascites can lead to significant increase in abdominal size. Let us try to understand more about the important ascites symptoms.
5 Common Symptoms Of Ascites
Increased size of the abdomen can lead to mild to moderate abdominal pain. This is a result of the pressure in the abdominal region. In the initial stages, patients may not experience any pain. However, moderate or severe ascites can have mild to moderate pain associated with it.
Pain also depends on the structures being affected in the abdominal region due to ascites. Pain in the chest can be a result of pressure near diaphragm. Severe bloating can lead to pain due to the pressure on the intestines.
This is the most common symptom of ascites. Moderate to severe ascites has visible abdominal distention. Fluid accumulation in the abdominal region increases the size of the abdomen. It also leads to increased pressure.
This can affect the surrounding structures of the abdomen. It pressurizes the lungs resulting in weak respiratory function. As stated above, it can have wheezing associated with it. Severity of the abdominal distention depends on the grade of ascites. Grade 1 ascites can be detected with ultrasound. However, grade 2 and grade 3 ascites have visible abdominal distention.
Patients suffering from ascites can experience severe abdominal discomfort due to the intense pressure. This is very common in grade 2 and grade 3 ascites. Grade 1 ascites has mild discomfort associated with it. Patients suffering from ascites experience discomfort also as a consequence of poor lung function.
Their ability to do work is reduced due to this. They can feel tired with moderate exertion. This discomfort abates in intensity with proper control. However, it takes a long time to resolve completely.
Difficulty In Breathing
Ascites can also affect respiratory function and lead to difficulty breathing. This can lead to shortness of breath with mild to moderate effort. This is worse in patients who have other respiratory illnesses not related to ascites. It is commonly seen in old aged individuals with poor respiratory function affected by ascites.
Dyspnea (difficulty breathing) can also be a consequence of distended abdomen pressurizing the inferior vena cava. This happens due to the poor blood flow from the lower extremities. Increased abdominal size can also result in poor lung expansion due to the pressure on the diaphragm.
As stated before, increased fluid near the diaphragm can lead to fluid accumulation near lungs. This leads to pleural effusion. Chest tightness and chest pain are common with pleural effusions. It can lead to rapid breathing and cough. Occasionally, pleural effusion caused by ascites can also result in fever. Chest pain associated with pleural effusion often becomes worse with breathing and coughing. Mild to moderate ascites rarely leads to pleural effusion. However, severe ascites affecting diaphragm can potentially affect the lungs in this manner.
Symptoms of ascites include shortness of breath, wheezing, distended abdomen, abdominal and chest pain, tightness and pressure on diaphragm. Proper understanding of these symptoms helps in controlling the disease effectively.