Most Insurances Accepted!
Call Ardu Recovery Center Today

Will Ascites Go Away if I Stop Drinking?

Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy on 7/31/23

After abusing alcohol, is sobriety enough to clear up ascites? In many cases, yes. Ascites will often begin to clear up if you stop drinking. Let’s get into the finer details.

Table of Contents

If you want to start your journey to sobriety, our alcohol rehab center is here to support you at every step of the way, from detox all the way through recovery. Let’s take on this challenge together.

What Is Ascites?

Ascites is a condition characterized by the abnormal accumulation of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity, known as ascitic fluid buildup.

This buildup of fluid happens when fluid leaks into the peritoneal space, leading to abdominal swelling and discomfort.

Ascites is often a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver or heart failure, where excessive fluid builds up due to impaired fluid regulation in the body.

Ascites Causes

The most common cause of ascites is liver cirrhosis, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Center. However, this ailment can be caused by other conditions, such as cancer and hypertension. Here are the most common causes of ascites:

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease (ARLD) is liver damage caused by excess alcohol intake. Excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption can damage the liver, resulting in conditions like alcoholic hepatitis and alcohol cirrhosis, both of which can cause ascites. Ascites caused by alcoholic liver disease is the most common type of this ailment.

Portal Hypertension

Liver cirrhosis can lead to an increase in blood pressure within the portal veins, which are the major blood vessels supplying the liver. This condition, known as portal hypertension, can contribute to ascites development.

Liver Cancer

Malignant tumors in the liver, such as liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma, can obstruct blood flow and impair liver function, leading to ascites.

Fatty Liver Diseases

Non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver diseases (AFLD) are conditions characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver. Severe cases can progress to liver cirrhosis and subsequently cause ascites.

Hepatitis B or C Infection

Chronic viral hepatitis, particularly hepatitis B or C, can cause inflammation and damage to the liver, which over time may lead to cirrhosis and ascites formation.

Ascites Symptoms

It’s important to recognize and act upon the symptoms of ascites as soon as possible in order to prevent complications such as jaundice and kidney failure. Here are common symptoms of early stage and late stage ascites:

Early Stage Ascites Symptoms

Recognizing the early stage symptoms of ascites is crucial for timely intervention and patient safety. In the early stages, people can experience subtle signs that indicate the presence of ascites. Here are some common symptoms associated with early-stage ascites:

  • gradual and unexplained weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area
  • increased abdominal size or bloating
  • discomfort or mild abdominal pain
  • feeling of fullness or pressure in the abdomen
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, especially when lying down
  • reduced appetite or feelings of early satiety
  • swelling of the ankles, legs, or feet

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, seek medical attention for proper evaluation and diagnosis. Early detection and management of this condition can help improve patient outcomes and prevent ascites complications.

Late Stage Ascites Symptoms

In the late stages of ascites, people can experience more severe symptoms that indicate the progression of the condition and potential complications. It is important to be aware of these symptoms for timely medical intervention. Here are some common symptoms associated with late-stage ascites:

  • increasing abdominal distension and swelling
  • rapid weight gain due to fluid retention
  • difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
  • fatigue and generalized weakness
  • reduced urine output or dark-colored urine
  • jaundice, with yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • swollen legs and ankles
  • development of hepatic encephalopathy, characterized by confusion, memory problems, and changes in behavior and personality
  • signs of alcohol-induced kidney failure, such as decreased urine production, swelling in the legs and feet, and electrolyte imbalances

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, immediate medical attention is essential. Late-stage ascites requires prompt evaluation and management to prevent further complications and improve overall well-being.

What Does Ascites Feel Like to Touch?

Ascites can cause a noticeable change in the abdomen’s feel and appearance. When touched, the abdomen affected by ascites feels tense, firm, and distended due to the presence of excessive fluid. The increased fluid accumulation can lead to a noticeable increase in abdominal girth and can cause symptoms such as discomfort or pressure on the underlying abdominal organs.

Is Alcoholic Ascites Reversible?

The reversibility of alcoholic ascites depends on multiple factors, including the extent of the liver damage and the person’s commitment to recovery. By helping people quit alcohol and abstain from further alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction specialists play a crucial role in promoting healing and preventing the progression of liver-related conditions caused by alcoholism.

Through personalized treatment plans for abstaining from alcohol, psychotherapy, support, and resources, we guide you towards a healthier, alcohol-free lifestyle and provide the necessary tools for long-term recovery.

Will Ascites Shrink on Its Own if I Stop Drinking?

If ascites is caused by alcohol-related liver disease, stopping alcohol consumption is an essential step in the management and treatment of ascites. By abstaining from alcohol, you can improve your liver health and reduce the risk of further complications.

In some cases, the fluid accumulation in the abdomen may gradually decrease or resolve on its own over time with sustained abstinence from alcohol. Still, it is important to consult with a medical professional for proper evaluation and management of ascites to ensure comprehensive care and monitoring of your condition.

Consulting with healthcare professionals, including addiction specialists, can provide you with the needed guidance and support in managing ascites and addressing alcohol abuse effectively.

How Long Can You Live with Ascites?

Ascites is a serious condition that indicates an underlying liver problem. If left untreated, the risk of developing complications and further liver damage increases, which can significantly impact life expectancy.

Addressing the underlying cause of ascites and managing liver health through appropriate medical interventions, lifestyle changes, and regular medical follow-ups will improve the prognosis and potentially extend life expectancy.

What Is the Treatment for Alcoholic Ascites?

The mainstay to managing patients with ascites is modest salt restriction, treatment with diuretic therapy, and cessation of alcohol in patients with alcoholic liver disease. (Moore, K.)

A 2015 study called Managing Ascites: Hazards of Fluid Removal, treating ascites caused by alcoholism starts with abstinence from alcohol. If the ascites is advanced enough, other forms of therapy, such as diuretic therapy and even a liver transplant, may be necessary.

If you or a loved one want to quit drinking, professionals in our alcohol detox center are here to help you on your journey to recovery. From detox to therapy and ongoing support, we offer comprehensive programs tailored to meet your individual needs and goals. 

Alcohol Detox

If you want to stop the development of alcoholic ascites, you need to stop drinking alcohol, and alcohol rehab is the first step to doing so. At Ardu, we offer both women’s detox and men’s detox from alcohol, so you can enjoy peace and tranquility surrounded by like minded people while taking back control of your life. 

Check out our blog post on how long it takes to detox from alcohol if you’re curious about the timeline.

Alcohol Rehab

After detox, long-term alcoholism treatment is an integral part of maintaining sobriety. We offer residential treatment, as well as outpatient treatment, so you can choose a program that fits your needs and preferences.

Our approach to treating alcohol addiction combines individual therapy programs, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, with group therapy, as well as holistic therapies and medication-assisted treatment. 

Diuretic Therapy

Diuretic therapy is one of the most common treatments for ascites. It involves the use of medications called diuretics to promote increased urine production and help reduce fluid buildup in the abdomen.

Diuretics help remove excess fluid from the body, relieving the symptoms associated with ascites. Close monitoring of fluid balance and regular follow-up with healthcare professionals are essential during diuretic therapy.

Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt

In cases where diuretic therapy is not effective or feasible, an intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) may be considered. TIPS is a minimally invasive procedure that involves creating a bypass within the liver to redirect blood flow and relieve pressure in the portal vein.

By improving blood flow, TIPS can reduce the formation of ascitic fluid. However, this procedure carries some risks and requires careful monitoring to ensure optimal outcomes.

Liver Transplantation

For people with severe alcoholic liver disease and refractory ascites, a liver transplant may be necessary.

Liver transplantation can provide a long-term solution by addressing the underlying liver disease that causes ascites. However, it is a complex procedure with extensive evaluation and waiting list considerations that also assesses your success in quitting alcohol.

Do You Need Help Getting Sober?

At Ardu, we are dedicated to helping you overcome alcohol addiction and address the underlying factors contributing to your alcohol use. We understand the challenges associated with alcoholism and the impact it can have on your overall health, including the development of conditions like alcoholic ascites.

You can expect a compassionate and non-judgmental approach from our healthcare team. We work closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and goals.

Our alcohol addiction specialists provide a variety of treatment modalities to support your recovery journey. This may include individual therapy to explore the underlying causes of your addiction, group therapy to connect with others who are going through similar experiences, and family therapy to address the impact of alcoholism on your loved ones.

The role of an alcohol addiction specialist goes beyond the initial phases of treatment. We provide ongoing support and guidance throughout your recovery process by helping you develop coping mechanisms, relapse prevention strategies, and healthy lifestyle habits that promote long-term sobriety.

We will be by your side to navigate the challenges and celebrate the milestones on your journey to alcohol-free living.

FAQ on Alcohol and Ascites

Is ascites permanent?

Ascites can be persistent if the underlying condition, such as liver failure or liver scars (cirrhosis) caused by alcohol consumption, is not adequately treated. Proper management and treatment of the underlying disease can help control or even resolve this liver condition to some extent.

Can you live 5 years with ascites?

The prognosis and life expectancy for people with ascites depends on several factors, including the underlying liver disease, response to treatment, and overall health. Regular liver biopsies and appropriate diagnosis and tests are crucial for evaluating the severity of liver disease and determining the best course of action for managing ascites.

What is a minimal ascites?

Minimal ascites is a small amount of fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. This form of ascites may not be easily detectable on physical examination or imaging studies but can still be detected through specialized diagnostic procedures.

Can ascites be benign?

Ascites is a symptom of an underlying condition, often related to liver dysfunction, such as portal vein issues or liver cirrhosis. While ascites itself is not considered benign and can be very dangerous if left untreated, addressing and treating the underlying cause can help improve outcomes and prevent complications.

Can you live a long life after ascites?

Life expectancy after ascites diagnosis can vary depending on multiple factors, including the underlying liver condition and overall health. Once you’ve stopped drinking and started making significant lifestyle changes, such as managing salt intake and staying active, you can live a long life after ascites.

What stage of liver disease is ascites?

Ascites is associated with advanced liver disease, particularly in the context of liver cirrhosis, which is the third stage of liver disease. It often indicates the progression of liver dysfunction and can be a significant marker of advanced stages of liver disease.

When is it too late to reverse liver damage?

It is never too late to reverse liver damage. The ability to reverse liver damage depends on factors such as the extent and severity of the damage, the underlying cause, and the timeliness of intervention. Timely medical intervention, such as stopping drinking alcohol and adopting a healthy lifestyle, can help slow down or even reverse certain forms of liver damage.

How quickly does ascites return?

For some people, ascites can reoccur relatively quickly, especially if the underlying liver disease is not effectively managed. Certain complications, such as spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, can also cause you to develop ascites again. Regular medical follow-up, including imaging studies like CT scans, can help monitor the condition and detect any signs of fluid accumulation.


Further Reading

How to Recognize Signs of Alcoholism

Is Alcohol a Drug?

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

How to Identify Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol Abuse Statistics in the US

What Is Lean?