British Liver Trust

Beer Bellies!

I was just wondering whether in fact most of the beer bellies that we see everywhere are in fact Ascites.

I for one didn't even know there was such a thing as ascites

I don't think GP's are in the main very observant. In spite of liver function tests husband was only diagnosed as having diabetis 2 in spite of also having itching problems and a paunchly demeanor and low albumin.

Cirrhosis and cancer only discovered after husbands stomach became so bad he lost appetite and had breathlessness!

5 Replies

GP should have been more vigilant, there were signs in the blood. Beer drinkers do put weight on and usually get a fatty liver, no doubt some could be getting ascites, but its an end stage issue, so they would soon be keeling over.


'keeling over'?

Oh Dear! do you mean the GP s or the people with Ascites? ;)


probably both


Oh Dear! I can't help laughing! must be a nervous reaction though because it's not really very funny at all!


ascites is the result either of portal vein thrombosis, portal hypertension, or cirrhosis. Either one those causes will lead to varices formation usually in the esophagus. If that were the cases often the blood circulation gets affected and blood gets redirected to the smaller veins which cannot handle the amount of blood often leading to recanalization. Thus in extreme cases a patient may have something called medusa veins spreading out from the umbilical area. Some may be prone to bleeding. It is important to recognize that some patients will have all the symptoms of cirrhosis but they may not actually have it and that is often called idiopathic portal hypertension. The LFTs, CBC, and urine tests are likely to be normal of slightly off with a better prognosis and survival.

If ascites is bad it can be detected with the wave test which is a physical maneuver to cause the fluid to literally wave in the stomach area. Also in supine (lateral) position the fluid can move to the side. Moreover an endoscopy will tell you if you have esophageal varices which may or may not bleed. Often the medical treatment is propranolol to lower the heart rate; spironolactone/furosemide to prevent fluid retention; and diet supplementation with B12, B6, and folic acid.


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