Stomach bloating describes the sensation of your belly feeling swollen, commonly caused by excess gas. However, the condition could signify a more serious illness.
A swollen tummy can, at times, be the result of an abnormal build-up of fluid in the abdomen (medically known as ascites).
The most common cause of ascites, as cited by Guts UK – a charity committed to fighting digestive diseases – is liver cirrhosis.
The NHS explains cirrhosis is scarring of the liver.
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As the liver becomes more damaged, the NHS points out that one might feel very tired and weak.
Another symptom of cirrhosis is feeling nauseous, losing your appetite and sex drive.
Furthermore, as the condition worsens, you may start vomiting blood.
Jaundice – when the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow – is another symptom of cirrhosis.
Itchy skin, dark tarry-looking poo, a tendency to bleed or bruise more early and swollen legs (oedema) are all symptoms the NHS list as possible signs of cirrhosis.
Guts UK states the main cause of liver cirrhosis is excessive alcohol intake.
Other possible causes include an infection with hepatitis C and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis us when the liver becomes inflamed due to a build-up of excess fat.
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The liver’s main function is to filter blood coming from the digestive tract.
The NHS states the liver also “stores glycogen, a carbohydrate that produces short-term energy”.
The organ also “makes bile, which helps digest fats”, and “makes substances that clot the blood”.
Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol over 10 years or more can damage the liver.
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There’s currently no cure for cirrhosis, but it is possible to slow its progression.
Medics may advise cutting down on alcohol consumption, or to stop drinking alcohol completely.
If the liver becomes severely scarred, it can stop functioning which can be fatal.
The only treatment available in this case is a liver transplant.
To prevent cirrhosis, the NHS recommend drinking less than 14 units per week.
The health body also suggest to have days where you don’t drink at all.
Fourteen units equates to either six small glasses of wine, six pints of lager or five pints of cider.
One small glass of wine measures up as 175ml, with 13 percent ABV.
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