Also known as Ascites and Swollen Abdomen
Abdominal distension occurs when substances, such as air (gas) or fluid, accumulate in the abdomen causing its outward expansion beyond the normal girth of the stomach and waist. It is typically a symptom of an underlying disease or dysfunction in the body, rather than an illness in its own right. People suffering from this condition often describe it as "feeling bloated." Sufferers often experience a sensation of fullness, abdominal pressure and possibly nausea, pain or cramping. In the most extreme cases, upward pressure on the diaphram and lungs can also cause shortness of breath. Through a variety of causes (see below), bloating is most commonly due to buildup of gas in the stomach, small intestine or colon. The pressure sensation is often relieved, or at least lessened, by burping (belching) or passing gas (flatulence). Medications that settle gas in the stomach and intestines are also commonly used to treat the discomfort and lessen the abdominal distension.Source: Wikipedia
The most common causes of abdominal distention are cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease, and heart failure. Other possible causes, such as fluid overload, are more rare.
Within all the people who go to their doctor with abdominal distention, 45% report having peripheral edema, 45% report having difficulty breathing, and 45% report having shortness of breath.
Patients with abdominal distention often receive hematologic tests, complete blood count, radiographic imaging procedure, glucose measurement, electrolytes panel, urinalysis, plain x-ray and liver function tests .
The most commonly prescribed drugs for patients with abdominal distention include furosemide, spironolactone, carvedilol, nadolol, sitagliptin (januvia), risedronate (actonel), midodrine, octreotide, lactulose, megestrol (megace), azathioprine, cefotetan and azelastine nasal .
Groups of people at highest risk for abdominal distention include age 60-74 years age 45-59 years. On the other hand, age 5-14 years and age 1-4 years almost never get abdominal distention.