Difference Between Ascites and Edema

Differentiating between diseases might be difficult for persons who have no medical background or who did not study medicine. Understanding the distinction between ascites and edema is one such problem. Swelling and underlying diseases are involved in both ascites and edema. Regardless, both illnesses can cause the same signs and symptoms, such as abdominal swelling, breathing difficulty, swollen legs, quick bruising, breast enlargement, and encephalopathy leading to confusion.

Ascites vs Edema

The main difference between ascites and edema is that ascites is a fluid build-up in the peritoneal cavity that is commonly an indication of liver illness, whereas edema is an abnormal collection of serum in tissue spaces or a bodily cavity.

Ascites vs Edema

Ascites is fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Fluid accumulates in the area between the organs and the abdominal lining, causing swelling and pain. It can occur when the blood pressure in the portal vein, which connects the digestive organs to the liver, becomes excessively high. This elevated pressure impairs kidney and liver function, resulting in fluid accumulation. A variety of medical disorders can also cause fluid accumulation, and the cause of ascites might vary depending on the unique characteristics of each disease.

Edema is swelling due to surplus fluid trapped in the tissues of your body. Though edema can influence any region of your body, it may be more noticeable in your hands, arms, feet, ankles, and legs. Edema can be caused by medicine, pregnancy, or an underlying condition, most commonly congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or liver cirrhosis. Edema is generally relieved by taking medicine to drain extra fluid and limiting the quantity of salt in your diet. When edema is a symptom of an underlying condition, the disease must be treated separately.

Comparison Table between Ascites and Edema

Parameter of comparisonAscites Edema
DefinitionAscites can be defined as the concentration of fluid in the abdomenEdema can be defined as the swelling and puffiness in different body parts.
Etymology Derived from the Greek word “askos,” means “sack” or “bagcame from the Greek term “oidein,” which implies “to swell.”
SymptomsAbdominal swelling and pain, nausea, urine urgency, weight gain, feeling bloated, lower leg swelling, and backacheVary according to the affected area, swelling caused, and the reason
CausesLiver disease, cancer, and heart failure. Other typical causes include diseases involving the kidneys, lungs, pancreas, and thyroid  Varicose veins, excessive salt consumption, extended sitting or standing, and medicinal side effects  
TreatmentDiuretics, lowering salt intake, emptying excess fluid from the abdomen with a needle, and lowering water intake  Treatment entails addressing the underlying cause

What is Ascites?

Ascites, derived from the Greek word “askos” (sac or sack), is excessive fluid collection in the abdomen (abdomen) caused by tumor pressure. It might cause the stomach to become firm and swollen. Bloating, swelling in the abdomen, vomiting, urine urgency, weight gain, feeling bloated, lower leg swelling, backache, and abdominal pain are all signs of ascites.

The peritoneum is a membrane or sac that surrounds the organs in the abdomen. Typically, this peritoneal cavity will only carry trace amounts of fluid.  Ascites, in general, refer to an unusual fluid buildup in the aforementioned cavity.

A variety of medical disorders can cause fluid accumulation, and the cause of ascites might vary depending on the distinct characteristics of each disease. Cancer that has progressed to the peritoneum might cause direct fluid leakage, whereas other disorders can cause storage of salt and water in the body. This fluid can then cause peritoneal cavity leaking.

Yet, one of the most prevalent causes of ascites is liver disease and the liver’s resultant diminished ability to manufacture proteins insufficient levels to aid in fluid retention in the circulation, as well as the impaired flow of fluids to the liver due to scarring or cirrhosis. This is because people with a healthy liver usually have consistent oncotic pressure to keep water in their blood.

The proteins can then create a pull that prevents water molecules from entering into nearby tissues and capillary blood vessels. As this health condition worsens, the liver’s capacity to create proteins is severely diminished, leading to lower oncotic pressure due to the body’s lack of total protein, which causes water to leak into the tissues lining the peritoneal cavity.

What is Edema?

The term “edema” is derived from the Greek word “oidein,” which implies “to swell.” It is recognized by swelling and puffiness in a variety of bodily locations, more prominently the skin. As a result, it is just a medical term used for swelling. It takes place when there is excessive fluid retained in the tissues. Edema is a prevalent illness, especially in pregnant women and the elderly; nevertheless, it can also be a severe condition.

Edema can be caused by a variety of factors, including varicose veins, excessive salt consumption, continuous sitting or standing, and medicinal side effects. It is also a consequence of several conditions, including heart failure, renal disease, liver problems, infections, allergies, and blood clots.

Edema symptoms vary according to the area which is affected, the severity of the swelling, and the reason. In the case of heart disease-related leg edema, the swelling may result in an additional 10 to 20 pounds, disrupting blood flow and causing skin ulcers. Breathlessness and low oxygen levels are symptoms of pulmonary edema.

As a result, the treatment entails addressing the underlying reason. As an example, allergy medications can be used to treat swelling caused by allergies, blood thinners are prescribed for a blood clot that caused edema, diuretics are prescribed to treat leg edema caused by congestive heart failure, or liver disease. Also limiting the intake of sodium may be beneficial.

Main Differences between Ascites and Edema

  1. Ascites can be defined as the concentration of fluid in the abdomen, whereas edema can be defined as the swelling and puffiness in different body parts.
  2. Ascites, derived from the Greek word “askos,” means “sack” or “bag.” Edema, on the other hand, came from the Greek term “oidein,” which implies “to swell.”
  3. Abdominal swelling and pain, nausea, urine urgency, weight gain, feeling bloated, lower leg swelling, and backache are all signs of ascites. The signs of edema vary according to the affected area, swelling caused, and the reason. For instance, allergic responses to medications and foods can induce swelling of the tongue or throat, which can make breathing difficult.
  4. Ascites is a cause of a more serious ailment, such as liver disease, cancer, or heart failure. Diseases of the kidneys, lungs, pancreas, and thyroid are also common causes. In contrast, edema can be caused by a variety of factors, including varicose veins, excessive salt consumption, extended sitting or standing, and medicinal side effects.
  5. Ascites therapies include diuretics, lowering salt intake, emptying excess fluid from the abdomen with a needle, and lowering water intake. Surgery may be considered if the aforementioned methods fail to relieve ascites. In the case of edema, treatment entails addressing the underlying cause. Allergy medicines, for example, can be used to reduce edema caused by allergies.

Conclusion

Both Ascites and Edema, though seem similar to a common man but medically are different with their symptoms, causes, and effects. And after knowing medically about them, it can be noticed that edema, comparatively is less severe than ascites. Even though both can become very dangerous to a person. A person dealing with any of these ailments must watch out carefully for its symptoms, especially shortness of breath and swelling on the face, these symptoms can make the problem more critical. Also, exercise, less sodium intake, and proper diet must be the focus of the patient suffering through any of these.

References

  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM197006182822502
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/540074
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