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ASCITES. (Hydroperitoneum. Abdominal Dropsy)
Category: Digestive Organs
This is an accumulation of
serous fluid in the peritoneal cavity. It is but a symptom of disease.
Local Causes. Chronic peritonitis, obstruction of the portal (vein)
circulation as in cirrhosis of the liver, cancer or other liver disease,
from heart disease, tumors, as of the ovaries or enlarged spleen. All
these mentioned may produce this dropsy.
General Cause. Heart disease, chronic nephritis, chronic malaria, cancer,
Symptoms. Gradual increasing distention of the abdomen, causing sometimes
a sense of weight, then difficulty of breathing from pressure. The abdomen
is distended, flattened at the sides unless it is very full. The skin may
be stretched tense, superficial veins are distended. The navel may be flat
or even protrude and around it the vessels may be greatly enlarged. There
is fluctuation when you tap sharply at one side, while holding your hand
on the other side you feel a wavy feeling.
PHYSICIANS' TREATMENT for Ascites. First treat the disease causing it.
Sometimes it is necessary in order to prolong life to repeatedly tap the
patient as in cirrhosis of the liver. When it is caused by the heart or
kidneys, give cathartics that carry away much liquid, hydragogue
cathartics. One dram of jalap at night followed by a big dose of salts
before breakfast. Cream of tartar and salts are good, equal parts. Or
cream of tartar alone, one to two drams, with lemon juice in water in
repeated doses. Digitalis and squill, of each one grain to cause great
flow of urine. Infusion of digitalis is also good to increase flow of
urine, when the heart is the real cause of the ascites. These treatments
take the liquids away through the proper channels, the bowels and kidneys.
Next: Ascites caused by an Ovarian Tumor
Previous: TUBERCULAR PERITONITIS