Fatty Liver Disease: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Fatty liver is a condition that arises due to a great amount of fat deposition in the liver. it can also be caused due to obesity and type 2 diabetes or due to excessive use of alcohol. Usually, there are no visible symptoms particularly pointing out towards the probability of fatty liver, but symptoms like fatigue, sudden loss of weight or pain in the abdomen can point towards it. Therapy can be performed to reduce risk factors including obesity through a diet and a training program.

This condition is not fatal in normal courses but in certain situations can lead to liver failure in a minority of patients (cirrhosis). Hepatic steatosis is also known as fatty liver, occurs as fat deposits in the liver. Even though little fat accumulation is common in the liver, too much can be threatening. The liver is our body’s second-largest organ which helps to absorb nutrients from food and filters toxic compounds out of your blood. Too much fat accumulation can cause inflammation in the liver, resulting in damages and may even trigger conditions such as cicatrix. This scar can cause liver failure in serious cases. 

Causes of Fatty Liver

There can be several causes that can lead to or trigger this condition such as:

  • Obesity: Low inflammation is involved in obesity that may facilitate the accumulation of liver fat. 30%–90% of obese adults are reported to have NAFLD and it is growing in children due to the epidemic of childhood obesity.
  • Excess belly fat: People who have a lot of fat (abnormal) accumulated in their waist region may be viscerally fat or obese.   
  • Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance and high insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome were shown to increase the accumulation of liver fat.
  • High intakes of refined carbohydrates: Frequent intakes of refined carbs encourage the storage of liver fat, particularly when overweight or insulin-resistant individuals consume high levels.
  • Sugar consumption: High in fructose is sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda or energy drink, which have been shown to drive accumulation of liver fat in children and adults.
  • Impaired intestinal health: recent research indicates that an imbalance in intestinal bacteria may aid NAFLD‘s production through problems with intestinal obstacles (leaky gut) or some other gut-health issue

fatty liver

Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

Typically no signs arise with ALD and NAFLD. Signs such as weakness or discomfort can be seen in certain individuals in the upper right side of the liver. The symptoms include:

  • Blood vessels tend to enlarge
  • Breasts tend to change shape and become enlarged, especially for men.
  • Palms turn redder than before
  • Yellowish looking skin and eyes due to conditions like jaundice 
  • Constant weakness and fatigue

Further, you may also experience the following if you develop NASH:

  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea and vibration
  • Mild to extreme pain in the abdomen
  • Eyes and skin yellowing

Fatty liver is prone to subtle signs and is often identified by blood exams. NASH typically has more serious signs like stomach pain and unpleasant feelings. For standard examinations and blood tests that can diagnosis fatty liver in the early, reversible stages, your doctor should consult at the earliest

Fatty liver diagnosis

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The diseases are not easy to diagnose, most people do not have symptoms. If you are having fatty liver disease, the physician will use various approaches to find out. Some of the diagnosis of fatty liver diseases your doctor can use are:

  • Medicines and eating habits 

Your doctor is going to ask you certain questions like alcohol consumption, your eating habits, the medicines you have been taking etc. this helps the doctor to rule out other possibilities and also understand whether you have a condition like ALD or NAFLD. 

  • Body checkup

The doctor performs certain checkups to find out any chances of liver or related diseases, jaundice and also weighs you.

  • Blood test

  These can be seen when high levels of liver enzymes including ALT and aspartate aminotransferase are present (AST). 

  • MRI or CT scan

The doctor will conduct an ultrasound, CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. These tests will help show if your liver has any fat. But if you have easy liver or NASH, they can’t say

  • Liver biopsy

Nobody requires a liver biopsy with NAFLD. If you are at risk for NASH or other tests showing NASH complications such as cirrhosis, your doctor can prescribe it. A doctor will take a tissue sample from your liver and send it to a laboratory to see whether there is hepatic inflammation or damage to it. 

You get medication to help you relax or control pain before the treatment. Your doctor will stun the area and take a small piece of tissue off the liver using a special needle for biopsy. The only way doctors can diagnose NASH is by liver biopsy.

Treatments for fatty liver 

For non-alcoholic fatty liver, physicians prescribe weight loss. Loss of weight can reduce fat, fluidity and fibrosis in the liver. You can avoid taking this drug if your doctor suspects that a certain medicine is the source of your NAFLD. Before stopping the drug, consult with your doctor. You may have to eventually get rid of the drug and instead need to turn to another. There are no licenced medicines for NAFLD treatment. Studies investigate whether some diabetes or vitamin E medicines can be beneficial, but further studies are required. 

Alcohol-related liver disease is most importantly treated by stopping alcohol. You may want to see a psychiatrist or take part in an alcohol recuperation programme if you need help with this. Medicines can also benefit by reducing the cravings or by making you feel safe if you consume alcoholic drinks. Cirrhosis can lead both to alcoholic fatty liver disease and a form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NNFD).

 Medicines, operations and other medical procedures can be used to treat health problems caused by cirrhosis. You can require a liver transplant if the cirrhosis leads to hepatic failure.

A variety of health problems can arise from a fatty liver. Fortunately, if tackled at an early stage, many fatal diseases can be stopped from occurring. Increased physical activity and possibly additional medications after a healthier diet will reduce excess liver fat and reduce the risk of developing into more severe liver disease. Always consult your doctor if you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms. An early diagnosis can save you from landing into a worse situation.

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