Fatty liver also called as Steatosis refers to the buildup of fat in the liver. It’s normal to have some fat in the liver but if it makes up to 5% to 10% of the organ’s weight then you may probably have fatty liver disease. Fatty liver is a reversible condition provided which can be achieved with behavioral controls.
The liver is the 2nd largest organ in the body. Its main function is to process everything we eat and drink and filter the harmful substances. This process gets interrupted if a lot of fat get deposited in the liver. The liver repairs itself by regenerating new liver cells when the old ones get damaged.
Fatty liver is a very common condition for people of age between 40 to 60 years. If the exact cause of this condition is not identified and treated, it might become harmful and even lead to life-threatening situations.
What are the symptoms of fatty liver?
It has no associated symptom. One may feel fatigue or an abdominal discomfort. Your liver becomes slightly enlarged and deposition of fat leads to liver inflammation. One may also have loss of appetite, weight loss, and confusion.
What are the causes of fatty liver?
Alcohol consumption is the most common cause for this condition. Fat deposition takes place when the body creates too much of fat and is not able to metabolize it at a fast rate. Now, the excess fat gets deposited causing fatty liver disease.
Other common causes for this condition include:
- High levels of fat in the blood
- Genetic inheritance
- Side effects of certain medicines such as aspirin, steroids, etc
- Rapid weight loss
Types of the Fatty liver:
There are 4 different types of fatty liver.
- Alcoholic liver disease (ALD):
Heavy consumption of alcohol will lead to alcoholic liver disease. The liver will not be able to break down the excess of alcohol taken in by the body. The genes can also play a role in ALD. However, if the person refrains from drinking alcohol for 6 weeks the fat will disappear.
Other factors that increase the chances of getting ALD are:
- Excess iron in the body
- Hepatitis that may cause inflammation of the liver.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL):
This is not due to alcohol. This condition develops when the liver finds it difficult to break down the fat. This is diagnosed when more than 10% of the liver is fat. People with high cholesterol and diabetes have greater chances of being affected. Other factors include:
- Rapid weight loss
- Viral hepatitis
- Inherited liver disease
Too much of bacteria in your small intestine and other changes in the intestine may be related to the non-alcoholic liver disease.
- Acute fatty liver of pregnancy:
It’s a very rare case where fat gets deposited in the liver when you are pregnant. It may lead to serious issues such as liver or kidney failure either in you or your baby. It may also cause infection or bleeding. There’s no exact cause for this but your hormones may play a role. The symptoms begin in the 3rd trimester. It includes:
- Pain in the upper-right abdomen
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis:
When fat builds up, it leads to swelling of the liver. This can impair liver function. The noticeable symptoms are:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
How is it diagnosed?
Physical exam: your doctor can detect it just by examining your abdomen. Also tell your doctor about your medical history, medications, alcohol and supplement use.
Blood tests: your doctor may observe that the liver enzymes are higher than that in a routine blood test. This doesn’t confirm fatty liver. Further analysis will be made.
Ultrasound: one may take up ultrasound or CT or MRI scan to detect the amount of fat deposition in the liver.
Liver biopsy: in a liver biopsy, the doctor will insert a needle into your liver to remove a tissue for examination. This will also help to detect the exact cause.
How is fatty liver treated?
There is no treatment, surgery or medication for fatty liver. Instead, your doctor will suggest ways and means reduce the risk factors. It includes:
- Limiting or avoiding alcoholic beverages
- Managing cholesterol levels
- Losing weight
- Controlling blood sugar
- Regular physical activities
- Diet control
- Include more of protein in your diet
As we all know, prevention is better than cure. So it’s always better to make efforts to remain healthy than to undergo treatments for recovery. For further query regarding fatty liver, you can call doctors on phone call at free doctor helpline or chat online with hepatologist and gastroenterologist.