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Ascites (fluid in the belly)

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Ascites (fluid in the belly)

Graphic of fluid in the belly

Another problem caused by high pressure in the veins of the liver is ascites. Fluid leaks out into the belly and it begins to fill it up. This can make the abdomen enlarge like a balloon filled with water. The legs can get swollen too. This can be very uncomfortable. Eating can be a problem because there is less room for food. Even breathing can be a problem, especially when you are lying down. But the most dangerous problem with ascites is infection, which can be life-threatening.

Ascites may go away with a low salt diet, and with diuretics (water pills) ordered by your provider. But sometimes a provider must actually drain the fluid from the belly using a special kind of needle.

If you have ascites and you suddenly get a fever or new belly pain, you should go to the emergency room immediately. These could be signs of a serious infection that can be life-threatening.