What is Fatty Liver?
The liver is the largest organ in the body and aids in digestion, removing toxins, and storing energy. Fatty liver is a condition of the liver where excessive fat gets accumulated. When that happens it leads to inflammation which damages the liver and liver failure.
There are two types of fatty liver:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: This is a type where fat is present in the liver but there is no inflammation. Another type of this disease there is inflammation and liver cell damage.
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease: This happens due to alcohol abuse.
Fatty Liver Symptoms
There are not many noticeable symptoms of fatty liver disease. If they do show signs it may be:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling fullness in the abdomen, especially in the upper right side or middle.
- Tiredness or extreme fatigue
- Mental confusion
- Edema or swelling of the legs and abdomen
- The skin becomes yellow, eyes become white like jaundice
- Mental confusion
Fatty liver disease can get complicated in some people and result in scarring of the liver which is called liver fibrosis. When liver fibrosis becomes severe it results in cirrhosis. Nonalcoholic fatty liver, as well as alcoholic fatty liver, can progress into a severe conditions like liver cancer or even cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a life-threatening disease and anyone suffering should see a hepatologist.
Who is at Risk?
Fatty liver risk factors are high for those:
- Who are overweight or obese
- Suffer from type 2 diabetes
- Are resistant to insulin and have high blood sugar
- Have infections like hepatitis C
- Women who are pregnant or have PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome
- Take medications like methotrexate, tamoxifen, amiodarone, etc that increase fat deposits in the liver.
- Have high triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol, and high levels of bad cholesterol.
- Have a metabolic syndrome
- Drinking alcohol in large quantities
- A family history of fatty liver puts a person at risk
- Belonging to certain ethnic backgrounds like Hispanic or African-American
- Aging makes it more likely to get this condition
- Are not having a healthy diet
- Exposed to certain toxins or chemicals
- Gallbladder removal
Fatty Liver Causes
Fatty liver is mostly associated with metabolic diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia which are due to the presence of a huge amount of lipids. Some of the other causes include:
- Metabolic issues like the abnormal storage of glycogen, abetalipoproteinemia which is an inherited condition that impairs the absorption of fats and vitamins, acute fatty liver due to pregnancy, and weber-Christian disease.
- Alcoholism or excessive consumption of alcohol also causes fatty liver. It produces aldehydes during metabolism which is toxic to the liver.
- Nutritional deficiencies due to severe weight loss, malnutrition, obesity, and refeeding syndrome.
- Celiac disease, hepatitis C, and inflammatory disease can also cause fatty liver.
How is Fatty Liver Diagnosed?
A doctor will usually do a fatty liver diagnosis by performing the following:
- Analyzing medical history: Check if the patient’s family has a history of this disease. Medical conditions, alcohol consumption, and medications taken for any health issues are determined.
- Physical exam: The doctor will check if the liver is enlarged by pressing on the abdomen.
- Blood tests: A common fatty liver test is a blood test. It shows if the liver enzymes are elevated. If it is elevated then additional tests will be required.
- Imaging tests: To determine excess fat CT scan, MRI scan, Ultrasound is done. It also checks for scarring.
- Liver biopsy: It is done for severe cases of scarring. A piece of tissue is removed for examination.
How is Fatty Liver treated?
Fatty liver treatment and fatty liver cure is dependent on the type and stage of the disease. There are no medications available to treat nonalcoholic fatty acid disease as of now. But it can still be reversed by maintaining optimal body weight. Obese people can improve their condition by reducing body weight by 7 to 10%. People with alcoholic fatty liver can revere it or prevent it from deteriorating by limiting alcohol use. Treatment for those with cirrhosis is surgery. It can then be managed by medicine for fatty liver. Liver transplants are an option for people having liver failure. Speak to our fatty liver doctor at Cure.fit for more getting diagnosed and treated. They will choose the best treatment option based on the diagnosis.
How can Fatty liver be prevented?
One of the most common risks of getting a fatty liver disease is obesity. So following a proper lifestyle can not only help in fatty liver prevention but also prevents future complications. A few tips are:
- Consuming healthy food that contains fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Avoiding food with saturated and trans fat.
- Avoid processed food as it is rich in refined carbs and calories
- Keeping the blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides levels low.
- Take medications to keep your diabetes in control, if you have it.
- Take medications as prescribed by your doctor
- Exercise for 30 minutes every day of the week
- Avoid alcohol
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