Abdominal Swelling

Abdomen | General Practice | Abdominal Swelling (Disease)


Abdominal swelling or enlargement of the abdomen is any bloating, distention or enlargement of the area between the chest and the groin.

The abdomen, also known as “belly,” consists of many organs, including the stomach, intestines, gallbladder, liver, pancreas and numerous blood vessels. Wind in the stomach or intestine may cause uncomfortable, bloating distension of the abdomen. Some women experience abdominal distension due to temporary water retention just before menstruation.

Causes and Risk factors

Some causes may be serious. For instance, ascites (accumulation of fluid between organs) may be a symptom of cancer or disease of the heart, kidneys, or liver; swelling may also be due to intestinal obstruction or an ovarian cyst. Abdominal swelling is a common symptom of diseases from mild to serious, disorders and conditions, such as gallstones, overeating, food poisoning, pancreatitis, liver disease, and pregnancy.

Abdominal swelling may be generalized, occurring throughout the abdomen, or it may be present in a small area of the belly, called an abdominal mass. Abdominal swelling that is associated with dizziness, shortness of breath, fainting, or yellowing of the skin (jaundice), can be a symptom of a serious, potentially life-threatening condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of the underlying cause may involve abdominal X-ray, ultrasound scanning, laparotomy, or laparoscopy. In ascites, some fluid between organs may be drained for examination. Treatment is chosen depending on the underlying cause. ...