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How to know if your have ascites of the abdomen

Updated February 21, 2017

Ascites is a build up of fluid between the tissue that lines the abdomen and the peritoneal cavity (or the abdominal organs). Ascites is usually associated with more severe conditions, such as liver disease, cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, liver cancer, ovarian cancer and pancreatitis. If you already have one of these conditions and you are suffering from abdominal bloating, it may be a sign of Ascites. If you do not have one of these conditions, there are several signs that you may have Ascites and should seek immediate medical attention.

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  1. Feel your stomach to note if it is swollen or distended. If you cannot feel that your stomach is bloated, which would be the first sign of abdominal swelling, then look at yourself in the mirror and note if there are significant changes in the size and feel of your stomach. Obviously there are many reasons why a stomach might be bloated or swollen, many of which are not medical emergencies. So what you are looking for is if your stomach is severely swollen, distended and round, or if your stomach looks swollen in connection with the feeling of extreme discomfort and bloating. These symptoms could be signs of Ascites.

  2. Take several deeps breaths. If you find it very difficult to breathe, in combination with stomach discomfort or swelling, then you may have Ascites.

  3. Measure your body temperature. If you have a fever, while also suffering from a swollen or distended stomach, or if you are having difficulties breathing, then you may be experiencing symptoms of Ascites, and should seek medical attention.

  4. Visit a doctor who will either perform an ultrasound on your abdomen or draw fluid from your stomach and run a test on that fluid to determine whether you have Ascites. There is no way of confirming whether you have Ascites until your doctor tests the fluid build-up that is causing the bloating, breathing difficulties and fever.

  5. Tip

    Because the symptoms of Ascites can easily be attributed to other conditions, many of which are not serious, you should talk to your doctor if you feel you may have Ascites and have him run the appropriate tests for the condition.


    Mild Ascites often does not produce any symptoms, therefore you need to get tested from a doctor to determine whether you have the illness and to discuss what treatment is best for you. Small amounts of fluid in the abdomen do not usually produce symptoms.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mirror
  • Thermometer

About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.

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