What is a Fatty Liver?
Fatty liver (steatosis) is caused by the fat build-up in liver cells. The liver has fat normally, however, when the liver contains 5-15% of fat, this is known as a fatty liver.
What are the Symptoms?
People who have a fatty liver usually are without symptoms. If signs do appear, they might include:
- A fullness feeling in the upper right or middle abdominal area
- Pain in the abdomen
- Loss of weight or appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing in the whites of the eye and on the skin)
- Swelling of legs and abdomen (edema)
- Extreme fatigue
- Mental confusion
- Skin problems
There are Two Types of Fatty Liver
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL)—whereby the build-up of fat is not connected to consuming alcohol.
- Alcoholic fatty liver—whereby the build-up of fat is a result of drinking excessive alcohol (more than two drinks each day.)
What are the Effects of Fatty Liver Disease?
In many cases, a fatty liver does not lead to liver dysfunction or any grave problems. However, it could lead to damage to the liver under particular circumstances. The more severe condition is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) as a result of fatty liver which is non-alcoholic. This can occur more likely in those with diabetes or overweight people. As much as 25% of the USA’s population is affected by fatty liver disease.
Fatty Liver Risk Factors
The risk factors are many for NAFL disease. If a person has a certain risk factor they are more inclined to experience a disease or condition. Risk factors include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having insulin resistance or diabetes (type 2)
- Metabolic syndrome – which combines excessive body weight, raised blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides and insulin resistance.
- Some metabolic conditions that are genetic or prescribed medications (tamoxifen, amiodarone, steroids, and diltiazem) may also raise risking NAFL disease. If you’re taking any such medications, check with your doctor for a substitute drug.
Fatty Liver Diagnosis
Blood tests could be done in order to check the liver for elevated enzymes. A computer tomography (CT) scan or ultrasound to see if there are any abnormalities and to confirm a diagnosis. A tissue sample by having a biopsy of the liver may be required if a severe disease is suspected by your doctor.
You may need a special diet since weight loss can decrease the fat levels of your liver. Even just 1 – 2 pounds each week may help. This can be discussed with a nutritionist or your doctor.
Drugs that monitor blood sugar can help in the treating diabetic patients. Vitamin E, also, has been demonstrated as effective in certain cases and further studies are underway.
How to Prevent Fatty Liver
- Maintain a weight that is healthy. Lose weight under professional supervision if you are overweight.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Foods rich in cholesterol should be avoided. Foods low in fat, and fruit and vegetables might assist in lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Limit the quantity of alcohol you drink or avoid altogether.
- Take medications only as prescribed.