The organs located in the abdomen are surrounded by a membrane or a sac that is called the peritoneum. Typically, the peritoneal cavity will only have a small amount of fluid inside of it. However, in women, this amount can vary by around 20 ml or a bit less than one ounce depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle. Ascites is a condition that refers to excess or an increase of fluid within the peritoneal cavity. When there is excess fluid in the peritoneal cavity it is not normal and the underlying cause needs to be determined. In addition to fluid building up in the abdominal area, extra fluid may start to build up in other areas of the body and cause swelling. This may occur in the feet, legs, and other organs including the lungs. Here are 15 common causes of ascites.
Cirrhosis of the liver is the most common reason that ascites develop. This disease occurs when damaged areas of the liver are replaced with scar tissue. When liver tissue is lost, liver failure can occur. One of the most common reasons that a person develops cirrhosis is because of drinking too much alcohol. Many alcoholics or people who drink alcohol on a regular basis end up damaging their liver, which leads to cirrhosis. When cirrhosis develops blood flow into the liver becomes blocked. This blockage will cause an increase in pressure through the portal vein. The portal vein is the main vein that delivers blood from the other organs in the digestive system to the liver. This blockage causes damage to the liver as it is not getting the nutrients that it needs from the body. When there is a blockage, it can cause a buildup of fluid in the abdomen, ascites.