Alcohol and Ascites


Ascites occurs when fluid collects in the abdominal cavity. Although having some fluid in this area is needed and necessary for lubrication, having too much causes problems.

Fluid retention from Ascites is a key symptom of liver cirrhosis, which is commonly caused by long-term heaving drinking. About half of all cases of cirrhosis are thought to be caused by heaving drinking.

Liver problems can also be caused by:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Autoimmune chronic active hepatitis
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis (which is unrelated to alcohol)
  • Drugs
  • Other medical disorders

The heavier someone’s drinking, the more chance there is of them contracting ascites and cirrhosis of the liver. It is believed by medical experts that women are more at risk of ascites than men.

To reduce the chances of developing ascites, drinkers are urged to stick within the unit limits advised by the government. Currently, these are 14 units for women and 21 units for men. A unit of alcohol is a spirit measure, a half-pint of beer or lager or a small glass of wine.

Heavy drinkers and alcoholics should try to prevent ascites and liver cirrhosis by seeking help to stop drinking. Once the liver cells are damaged by alcohol, it is weakened and just drinking lightly after that can cause serious damage.

After drinking is stopped, in many cases liver damage will stop. It can’t be reversed but the symptoms  are manageable. If drinking isn’t stopped and is damaging the liver, it can eventually lead to death.

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