Ascites from Hep C: Managing Stomach Swelling & Treatment
Last updated: November 2022
Once the belly swells out and you look like you’re pregnant, you have probably figured out that it’s ascites. I remember the first time my whole tummy felt jiggly with ascites–it was just before I was diagnosed with the hepatitis C virus. I was dancing with my grandkids. They were teaching me how to do the Cupid Shuffle. "It’s a brand new dance... to the right, to the right, to the right, … " It was during the "kick, now kick" part that my feet also felt a little numb. Sure enough, my liver failed within 2 weeks. I had so much hepatic encephalopathy that I didn’t even know what was happening.
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Signs of ascites from hepatitis C
- You look 6 months pregnant... and you’re a man.
- You look 6 months pregnant.... and you're a post menopausal woman.
- Your toes are so chubby that you live in flip flops because no other shoe fits.
- You have so much pressure on your stomach that it feels like an alien may be getting ready to pop out.
- You’re breathless, and it’s not from running.
- When you snap your fingers, yellow fluid drips off.
- It feels like a ton of bricks pressing on your chest is keeping you from inhaling deeply.
- A trip to the kitchen feels like you're climbing Mount Everest.
- If this has happened to you, don’t get alarmed. Ascites is part of liver damage. You may read how it’s a sign of failure, and sure it is. But you can look at my blog posts and know that you can get through this.
How to manage ascites
- Talk to your doctor about diuretics. These are drugs that can help you to eliminate more water. Yep. It means more time on in the bathroom. But it’s worth it to take those pills just like your doctor orders.
- Lower your salt intake. Sodium is known to cause the body to hold water. You definitely don’t need that right now. You are trying to get rid of it. Look for hidden salt in restaurant or processed foods. Try to surround yourself with healthy snacks.
- Reduce fluid intake. Your doctor may have you watch your intake of such things as fruit or juices. Too much water will overload your body until you can get it a break.
The best way to get inflammation off of your liver and kidneys is to take treatment for the hepatitis C virus. Keep your body clean from drugs or alcohol while you are treating. This is especially true when you have ascites from hepatitis C.
My story had a good ending. I had severe ascites and had to have fluid drained. It’s a simple procedure to keep the water in your belly from causing problems. If the fluid is allowed to remain, it can cause infections. It was a scary time. I took my meds and got rid of HCV. Even while on treatment, my ascites reared it’s ugly head. My feet looked like 2 poofy marshmallows sticking out of my shoes. Today, the only time I have ascites is when I ride for too long in a car.
You can get help with ascites. Get on treatment, take your medications, and make the dietary and lifestyle changes needed to help get rid of that extra water weight!
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