Husband has COPD and liver disease - it's quite advanced and, as he didn't heed the doctors and only cut down on drinking, he is not in line for transplant. he woke up this morning for the first time with an extended abdomen - i've tried searching online and have researched in past and know that this is not a good sign but i do want to know if we should be going to emergency room now or should i wait and take him to his doctor - is the actual sign of severely swollen abdomen a death sentence? thanks for your time anyone out there and happy thanksgiving...
The swollen abdomen that your talking about is called Ascites. It's a fluid build up in the stomach cavity. Small amounts of fluid in the abdominal cavity usually produce no symptoms, but massive amounts may cause abdominal swelling (distention) and discomfort. Pressure on the stomach from the swollen abdomen may lead to loss of appetite, and pressure on the lungs may lead to shortness of breath. When a doctor taps (percusses) the abdomen, the fluid makes a dull sound. When the abdominal cavity contains large amounts of fluid, the abdomen is taut, and the navel is flat or even pushed out. In some people with ascites, the ankles swell with excess fluid (edema). However, a doctor may not be able to detect ascitic fluid unless the volume is about a quart or more.
The basic treatment for ascites is bed rest and a salt-restricted diet, usually combined with drugs called diuretics, which make the kidneys excrete more water into the urine. If ascites makes breathing or eating difficult, the fluid may be removed through a needle inserted into the abdomen—a procedure called therapeutic paracentesis. The fluid tends to reaccumulate unless the person also restricts salt consumption and takes a diuretic. Because a large amount of albumin (the major protein in plasma) is usually lost from the blood into the abdominal fluid, albumin may be administered intravenously.
An infection called spontaneous bacterial peritonitis occasionally develops in ascitic fluid for no apparent reason, especially in people with alcoholic cirrhosis. Untreated, this infection can be fatal. Survival depends on early vigorous treatment with antibiotics.
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