The term fatty liver describes fat buildup in the liver. The condition is also called ‘hepatic steatosis’. Though it is normal to have some fat in your liver, excess of liver disease or fatty liver disease can become a health problem- a major one if left ignored!
Did you know, liver is the second largest organ in the body? It processes all that we eat or drink and filters harmful toxins from the blood as well. But if there is too much of fat in the liver, then this process can get interrupted.
When does fatty liver happen? When the fat deposits in the liver account for 5% to 10% of your liver weight. But can this condition be reversed?
The fatty liver disease can be resolved provided you make certain changes in your lifestyle habits (not all the blame can be put on genes). In many cases, there are no fatty liver symptoms. Unless it progresses, there will be no permanent liver damage as well.
Let’s find out the symptoms of fatty liver.
Fatty Liver Symptoms
Ah! The topic of fatty liver symptoms might sound as if the whole world is falling apart. But it isn’t like that. There are no associated symptoms of fatty liver disease. Only thing is you may experience fatigue or vague discomfort in the abdomen. In some cases, the liver may become slightly enlarged which can be detected by a proper physical exam done by your doctor.
But excess of liver fatness can cause inflammation. And if that happens, the following symptoms may crop up:
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Pain in the abdomen
- Physical weakness
By any chance, if fatty liver advances to liver cirrhosis (meaning liver damage) and liver failure, then these are the symptoms that could come up:
- Fluid-filled and enlarged abdomen
- Jaundice of the skin and yellowing of the eyes
- Tendency to bleed more easily
Causes Of Fatty Liver
If one were left to guess about the fatty liver causes, what will be the most common answer? Alcoholism and Heavy drinking.
But you know what?
The real challenge a doctor faces is when the patient does not drink alcohol, yet the poor soul is down with a liver problem. What we call it as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
One of the causes of development of fatty liver is when the body creates excess of fat or cannot metabolize fat at the normal speed it does.
What happens as a result of it?
The excess of fat gets stored and accumulated in the liver cells thereby leading to fatty liver disease.
In fact, the first and the basic reason behind fatty liver causes is eating a hi-fat and hi-sugar diet. It may not directly cause fatty liver but it can contribute to it.
Besides the dreaded alcoholism, other fatty liver causes include:
- Rapid weight loss
- High levels of fats in the blood
- Genetically inherited
- Side effects of certain medications (this includes aspirin, steroids, and few others)
Types Of Fatty Liver
You know there are two types of fatty liver: nonalcoholic and alcoholic.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
As goes the name, this liver disease has nothing to do with alcohol. It develops when the liver has difficulty in breaking down the fats. This leads to build-up in the liver tissue. The nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is diagnosed when the liver has more than 10 per cent of fat.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease
As you can make out by the name, this fatty liver disease is the earliest stage of liver disease related to alcohol. What happens when heavy drinking repeats? It damages the liver. In the process, the liver cannot break down the fats.
Good news – if the alcoholic drinker stays away from drinking alcohol for 6 weeks, it can cause the fatty liver to subside.
But if excessive alcohol continues, then it can lead to cirrhosis.
Risk Of Getting Fatty Liver
Yes, it is important knowing this clause. Risk of getting fatty liver disease is there if you:
- If you are overweight or obese
- If you have type 2 diabetes
- If you drink alcohol in excess
- If you have high cholesterol
- If you have high triglyceride levels
- If you have malnutrition
- If you have metabolic syndrome
Signs Of Getting Fatty Liver
Whether you have fatty liver or not, don’t you think you should know signs of liver damage. Here are some signs you should make a note of:
- Turning yellow of Skin or White of the Eyes: This happens due to the buildup of a yellowish substance called “bilirubin” in the blood. Also, the yellowing symptom, called jaundice, can happen when the damage of the liver prevents the liver from processing that bilirubin.
- The Urine and Stool change colour as a result of jaundice: While the pee turns dark, the poop turns pale.
- Other health problems: The liver disease can be an underlying cause of itchy skin, kidney failure, thyroid problems, even cancer.
- Bruises: One of the signs of liver damage can be development of bruises or bleeding early, that is because the liver has either slowed or stopped the production of proteins necessary for blood clotting.
- Swelling: The fact that you are down with fatty liver disease is when your body starts to retain water in the legs and abdomen leading to swelling.
- No symptoms: The fatty liver disease is often called a ‘silent killer’. Meaning no symptoms at all particularly in the early stages. But if you allow it to go untreated and undiagnosed for years while fat accumulates, then expect inflammation of the liver and scars on the liver surface.
Treating Of Fatty Liver
To do so, there is neither any medication nor surgery. Your doctor will be the best judge to advise measures to reduce your risk factors.
These are the likely recommendations you need to follow –
- Limit or avoid taking alcohol
- Lose weight
- Control your blood sugar
- Reduce your intake of sugar and saturated fatty acids in order to manage your cholesterol
What does this mean? That you need to be PROACTIVE ABOUT PREVENTION.
If obesity or unhealthy eating habits is the main reason behind your fatty liver, then your doc might advise you to increase your physical activity and put a ban on some types of food items which are contributing to the ailment.
Did you know?
Reducing the no. of calories on a per day level can not only help you lose weight but also heal your liver in the process.
- Choose healthier foods – and they are plenty of them – such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Replace red meats with chicken and fish. The latter are lean animal proteins.
Prevention Of Fatty Liver
The good news is that the liver can repair itself, provided you take the necessary steps to treat high cholesterol, obesity or diabetes.
- Are you a heavy drinker? Either stop your drinking or limit your alcohol intake to 1-2 beverages a day.
- Liver Biopsy can help your doctor get a grip of the situation (is it permanent liver damage/and the best way to treat it)
I hope I was able to educate you enough on the fatty liver, fatty liver disease, fatty liver symptoms, fatty liver causes, signs of liver damage etc. Do write and add your comments below and tell us how you found this piece. Don’t forget to share and repost it on your social networks.
Images Source: pinterest