What Are the Causes of Stomach Edema?

Stomach edema, also referred to ascites, occurs when fluid accumulates in the tissues of the abdominal cavity. The accumulation of fluid occurs when the smallest blood vessels, the capillaries, leak fluid abnormally, and the kidneys begin to retain water in an effort to compensate for the fluid loss. Mild edema in the legs does not usually indicate an underlying medical condition, but stomach edema can indicate damage to major organs.

A man is holding his chest. (Image: Lisa F. Young/iStock/Getty Images)

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is extensive scarring in the liver that occurs as a result of chronic damage. The liver is responsible for detoxifying the body and preventing damage from harmful substances. Each time the liver is damaged by a harmful substance, it repairs itself. In most people, the liver can repair itself without producing any severe scarring. People with chronic liver disease, bile duct diseases and those who abuse alcohol, experience repeated liver damage, causing scar tissue to build up and replace healthy liver tissue. When the liver has a significant amount of scar tissue, it can no longer function properly. This results in stomach edema, fatigue, easy bruising and bleeding, loss of appetite, edema in the legs and weight loss, according to MayoClinic.com. Treatment for cirrhosis is focused on treating or eliminating the underlying cause and reducing symptoms with medications.

Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach that is responsible for producing enzymes that aid in proper digestion of food. The pancreas is also responsible for the release of insulin and glucagon, which help to regulate blood sugar. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that may be caused by a blockage of the bile ducts or certain chronic diseases, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. This inflammation irritates the inner lining of the pancreas and causes digestive enzymes to activate inside of the pancreas, instead of the small intestine where they usually become active. Symptoms of pancreatitis include stomach edema, nausea, vomiting, fever, increased pulse, weight loss and diarrhea. Pancreatitis is a serious condition that usually requires hospitalization during which, intravenous fluids and antibiotics are administered.

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart cannot pump adequate amounts of blood to the rest of the body. When the heart cannot pump blood efficiently, the blood pools in areas of the body and causes fluid to accumulate. This results in stomach edema. Other symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, cough, swelling in the feet and ankles, weight gain, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and decreased concentration, according to MedlinePlus. Heart failure is a chronic condition that usually develops as a result of congenital heart diseases, abnormalities of the heart valves, chronic irregular heartbeat and heart attack. Treatment for heart failure consists of close monitoring, drastic diet changes, medications and possible surgery.

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