Belly fat or ascites?: Hi I am reading... - British Liver Trust

British Liver Trust

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Belly fat or ascites?

Elaine72055 profile image


I am reading so much information on Dr. Google that is worrying me. I am a 56 year old post-menopausal female. I have been gaining weight (mainly in my tummy) for about a year now. Figured it was age and the fact that I now work from home. I do like to have an Amaretto on ice in the evening. Can someone tell me how you can determine if its ascites or just weight gain? Thanks!

27 Replies

My husband suffers Ascites, he puts on about a pound a day, then has to get drained once a month. Last drain was 15.5 litres of fluid, so I think you would know. He also eats enough food to feed a 2 year old.

alfredthegreat profile image
alfredthegreat in reply to Yuiop

He must feel tremendous relief when he gets drained. That's a massive amount of extra weight to carry around! Alf

Yuiop profile image
Yuiop in reply to alfredthegreat

He got 15.5 ltrs drained 21-10-18 and has put on a stone and a half since he got home. 1 week till his assesment, so I've been chasing up the doctor at the hospital to see if he can get drained again next week. She hasn't got back to me but I'll keep chasing her. I don't know if they will assess him when he needs drained as he can hardly breath, then he is fully exhausted for a few days after the drain,

Elaine72055 profile image
Elaine72055 in reply to Yuiop

What a shame - I hope he gets some relief soon. It must be so hard for you too.

Yuiop profile image
Yuiop in reply to Elaine72055

It's tough, but it's tougher for him x

Yuiop profile image
Yuiop in reply to Elaine72055

And we are fighting hard to get mobility! These people have no idea!

in reply to Yuiop

Seriously, as you say they have no idea, I am being reassessed for PIP now in my 24th week of waiting, had to argue to get a home visit, basically argue for everything, on the 23 October I received a text to say they have received enough information to make a decision then this Saturday I received a letter telling me the same, to be quite honest if I didn't have a good family and a sense of humour I really think I would of gone mad by now, treated like a child to be honest, they don't know what you go through and have a cavalier attitude. The only positive thing was the woman that carried out the assessment, very kind and considerate.

in reply to Yuiop

Hey yuiop, I might be wrong, but the state of some people at my assessment sessions made me feel like a 15 year old!

So surely if he goes there bloated they will sort out what has to be done, as well as going through the rest of the tests, and then afterwards double check he’s strong enough for a transplant. I didn’t get the Assessment without additional non-standard tests!! Of course, “I know nothing”!



Yuiop profile image
Yuiop in reply to

That's really what I need his doctor at hospital to tell me! I don't want his assessment cancelled because of Ascites. If it's not a problem to drain him in Edinburgh, that would be great.


in reply to Yuiop

Is that a lot of food or a little - seriously? One of my granddaughters wouldn’t hardly eat and the other 3 scoffed away.....

And, Yuiop (just saying it again to prove I can spell - oh wait a minute it's not a real word (is it?)) I agree with freddie

Oops this is a real Non Value Added post......



Yuiop profile image
Yuiop in reply to

Haha, take it away Sam!


When I was 61 I noticed that my trousers belt had to be loosened until the time came when I had to buy new ones. But this 'weight gain' only seemed to be around my tummy and nowhere else.

I had absolutely no other symptoms, but went to see my GP anyway. He examined me flat on my back by tapping all over my abdomen. The eventual diagnosis, due to the discovery of ascites was suspected cirrhosis. This was later confirmed as Alcohol Related Liver Disease (ARLD). Unfortunately, my liver disease was found too late and 14 months later I needed a liver transplant.

Other than you seeing your GP, there is absolutely no way you can decide if you have ascites or not.

As you can see, early diagnosis is very important, so If you are at all worried, then you must ignore the internet and make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. With the exception of the British Liver Trust website, you should keep away from the internet.

Take care,


Elaine72055 profile image
Elaine72055 in reply to LAJ123

Hi Jim

Thanks for your response. Did you gain this weight rapidly?

LAJ123 profile image
LAJ123 in reply to Elaine72055


The gain was very gradual - maybe eighteen months to two years.

Although I was extremely ill within a couple of months, the ascites was quite well controlled with medication and I never had to have a drain.

I hope that you have an appointment soon and can put your mind at rest.


fkdup profile image
fkdup in reply to LAJ123

You said you had no symptoms yet you claim to have been sick a few months in. Wouldn't that be a symptom?

If you have fat then you can usually squeeze it with your hands as its soft and wobbly. sit on the chair and see if you can grab fat as thats usually the time it stick out the most. you will know if your eating to much and drinking and not getting enough exercise. You should see your doctor if you think you have anything else wrong with you. Try not to google things your not sure about, like symptoms as there are so many that are the same for different illness's. Its not helping you. The only way to put your mind at rest is go to the doctor.

Elaine72055 profile image
Elaine72055 in reply to grace111

Thanks Grace - yep, it’s wobbly!

Go to your doctor and ask him to perform a ascites percussion test on you.

Hi Elaine

Don't normally post but felt compelled to , as like yourself fifty something female normally fit and healthy not overweight (although always had slight post 'mummy tummy'). Few months of small increasing weight on scales and thinking is my tummy getting bigger, blaming menopause- until one morning woke up with 2 swollen ankles - initial diagnosis was ovarian cancer- gynae scan (done private so very quickly) said negative to ovarian cancer but spotted something wrong with liver !! - cirrhosis. Fast forward 8 months- liver transplant.

Like Jim so rightly said if you are concerned seek advice, it can either be reassuring or start you on the proper track.

Good luck.

I’m 54 and have liver fibrosis due to nafld. Prior to my diagnosis my stomach was huge. I was waddling and wearing maternity clothes. My endocrinologist put me on metformin due to my elevated sugars. Within one week I lost 10lbs. My whole body had been full over fluid. My fingers looked like sausages. During the first month on metformin I lost a total of 20 lbs. I was never diagnosed was acites but it was my huge stomach that got my doctor to order the tests needed.

I suspect it was acites due to the rapid loss of weight but can’t be sure. There was a point where I gained 10 lbs in 3 months which also set off alarm bells to my doctor.

Since February I’ve now lost a total of 45 lbs. I’m still on diabetic meds and eating a very strict diet. I really need to lose another 20 lbs to be within the high end of a normal weight for my size. I don’t eat any sugar, bread, pasta or even fruit. Absolutely no alcohol. I also try to eat organic when I can, not an issue so much in Europe but the food over here in the US is not real. And I try to use organic body and cleaning products, again to an issue so much in Europe.

Keep us posted when you are diagnosed. This is a great place to ask questions and discuss your health problems.

1 litre of fluid = 1kg or 2.2lbs, so if it is ascites, that is the weight gain. Discuss with your consultant and they can check either by feel or ultrascan.

If it is they will arrange a drain, nice day having a narrow gauge 6” needle put into your stomach, good luck.

Hi Elaine, my ascites came on quite rapidly, over the course of about 3 weeks. It was classed as 'moderate'. I think they class it from: Mild (only visible on an ultrasound scan, Moderate (visible and palpable), and Massive (speaks for itself.

Even though mine was Moderate it caused me quite a lot of discomfort as the mass of liquid squeezed my other abdominal organs, and made less room for my lungs to expand, making me short of breath.

I would say don't panic, as it just sounds like belly fat, and from what you've said the weight gain is just due to your lifestyle/diet etc. Plus you don't mention any other symptoms that would 'usually' a company ascites at that stage of liver disease.

But, if it's really bothering you, see the GP to rule it out. They can do a quick test by tapping (with their fingers) and listening to your abdomen.

Diuretics (water tablets) would be the initial treatment. Drains come into play if diuretics don't work.


Elaine72055 profile image
Elaine72055 in reply to Garyvh

Thank you Gary. I have no other symptoms at all. Started reading online and diagnosed myself with all kinds of things.

I am able to suck my belly in - can you do that with ascites?

Garyvh profile image
Garyvh in reply to Elaine72055

It would be difficult to impossible, depending on the severity of the ascites.

The fluid is behind the abdominal wall of muscle and pushes the muscles forward.


It is unlikely it is ascites, especially if you have good digestion and no other health issues.

Elaine72055 profile image
Elaine72055 in reply to wxaa

Thank you - I don’t have any other symptoms. Going to join a gym and start exercising.

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