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Lisa, MSN, FNP-BC, CCRN
Lisa, MSN, FNP-BC, CCRN, Nurse Practitioner
Category: Health
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Experience:  Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
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My wife has had a distended abdomen for the past 3 days

Resolved Question:

My wife has had a distended abdomen for the past 3 days. It came on pretty quickly. No pain, gas, or discomfort of any kind. She has noticed that she has been urinating more frequently, although very small amounts. Any help would be appreciated.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Lisa, MSN, FNP-BC, CCRN replied 6 years ago.

Hello;

 

Thank you for writing in today. I want to provide you with the best possible information, so I do have a few questions. I hope you understand. Wife's age? Does she have any medical conditions? What medications and supplements does she take? Where is she distended, is it primarily lower abdomen, upper abdomen, or all over? When was her last bowel movement? Has she had any changes in her bowel movements? Any other symptoms, such as burning when she urinates or nausea? Any recent change in diet? Any change in urine color? When was her last gynecological exam? Please let me know. Lisa

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
She is 43, takes no medications and only basic multivitamins. Her lower and mid abdomen is distended. Her last bowl movement was this morning and was normal. Only other symptom is a 4 pound weight gain since monday. She started a lower carb diet monday, nothing drastic, just cutting out the bread, pasta, rice, and sweets. She thought she was urinating more frequently because she has been trying to drink more water. As part of the diet, she has been eating more salads. Her last gynecological exam was 4 years ago. She just finished her last menstrual cycle. She usually has a bit of discomfort in her ovaries right about this time of month, so that is unremarkable.

Thank you.
Expert:  Lisa, MSN, FNP-BC, CCRN replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for responding to the questions. This is a bit difficult, given the limits of this format. At this point, I will have to recommend an evaluation. I know that no one wants the "go to your provider" response, but sometimes it is necessary. I will explain. The abrupt weight gain and abdominal distention is most concerning to me. There doesn't seem to be a reasonable explanation for the weight gain. Sometimes dietary changes can cause some fluid shifts; however, high protein diets usually cause some water loss, which is why people have dramatic weight loss when starting these types of diets. Since she has acute weight gain and distention, the most concerning possibility is that she may have some fluid in her abdomen, such as ascites. Since I can't assess her, I can't check for fluid, but there are techniques a provider can do to see if this fluid related. Fluid can accumulate in the abdomen for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are cardiac, liver, pancreatic, kidney, and ovarian disorders. Whenever someone has significant abdominal distention, particularly if there is an associated weight gain, it really should be evaluated. Now, with this being said, some women develop abdominal distention and weight gain due to hormone fluctuations. This generally occurs right before menstruation. Given your wife's age, she is probably familiar with her body changes during her cycle. If she feels that this is abnormal for her usual, I would recommend monitoring it over the weekend. If there is still distention and her weight continues to increase, she should see her medical provider and GYN. If anything, it is time for another GYN checkup. At this point, please don't be alarmed. At this point, it's only been going on a few days. It doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong. It just means that there should be more investigation if it continues. I hope this helps. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please let me know. Lisa

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
She continue with her increased water intake or reduce? Any other symptoms we should be looking for that we have perhaps not noticed that would help us figure out what is going on?
Expert:  Lisa, MSN, FNP-BC, CCRN replied 6 years ago.

If she's thirsty, she should drink. As long as she's not going overboard, there is no indication to restrict her water intake at this point. Although I can't substitute as a provider, she could consider returning to her usual diet to see if things improve. Her diet could potentially be causing a problem. Hopefully, by Monday, things will return to normal. What I would recommend is monitoring her weight and distention over the weekend. If it increases, she needs to see her provider. If she develops new symptoms, such as pain, this too should be reported. Even if things get back to normal on Monday. I would still recommend a GYN exam. The reason I recommend it is because ovarian cancer can really be asymptomatic until later stages. Sometime ovarian cancer presents as lower abdominal distention by the time it has spread. Again, please don't be alarmed. This does NOT mean she has this. I just want you to know the things we think about in this type of situation. I think it helps to reinforce the importance of evaluation when things change. Hopefully, this is self-limiting and everything normalizes over the weekend. Honestly, if you have additional questions or concerns, please let me know. Lisa

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