It is known that Skin the largest organ of our body followed by the liver. Liver’s job is to process nutrients from food and drinks and filter harmful substances from the blood. When fat builds up in the liver, it is known as the Fatty liver or Hepatic Steatosis. It is common to have small amounts of fat in the liver, but too much can become a health problem causing liver inflammation, which can damage the liver and create scarring. In severe cases, this scarring can lead to liver failure as well
When Fatty liver develops in someone who drinks a lot of alcohol, it’s known as alcoholic Fatty liver disease (AFLD) whereas non-drinkers can develop non-alcoholic Fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Research says NAFLD affects up to 25 to 30 percent of people.
Symptoms of Fatty liver:
Majority of the cases of Fatty liver have had no symptoms. Here are some general symptoms observed in patients which may result in Fatty Liver:
- The patient feels tired or experiences discomfort or pain in the upper right side of his abdomen.
- Liver fibrosis: when there is complication in the liver, like liver scarring it is known as Liver fibrosis. And an extreme case of this is known as Cirrhosis. Cirrhosis may cause symptoms such as:
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- itchy skin
- yellow skin and eyes
- when blood vessels under the skin form clusters
- abdominal pain
- abdominal swelling
- swelling of your legs
- breast enlargement in men
Causes of Fatty liver
When the body produces too much fat or is not able to metabolize fat efficiently enough, excess fat gets stored in the liver cells. This excess fat accumulated in the Liver causes the Fatty liver disease.
This fat can be built for various reasons:
- If alcohol consumption is high, it results in alcoholic Fatty liver disease.
- High blood sugar
- Insulin resistance
- High levels of fat in the blood, like triglycerides
- Rapid weight loss
- If encountered infections like Hepatitis C
- Some types of medications like methotrexate can cause certain side effects and Fatty Liver may be of them
- Exposure to certain toxins
- Certain genes may also raise the risk of developing Fatty liver.
How to diagnose a Fatty liver?
- If the patient’s family has a medical history, including any history of liver disease
- If the patient’s alcohol consumption and other lifestyle habits are a cause of concern
- If the patient has any medical conditions or complications
- If the patient has taken any medications which otherwise are not taken by him.
- If the patient has any recent changes in his health
- If he has been experiencing fatigue, loss of appetite, or other unexplained symptoms.
Treatment for Fatty liver
- Most of the times, lifestyle changes can help control or reverse the Fatty liver disease. The patient is usually advised to:
- To limit or avoid alcohol consumption
- To take steps to lose weight in case he is overweight
- To make changes to his diet. Make right choices of what to eat and what not to eat. If a person has the Fatty liver disease, his doctor might encourage him to adjust his diet to help treat the condition and lower his risk of complications. He may be advised to eat a diet rich in plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. He may also be advised to limit his consumption of refined carbohydrates, such as sweets, white rice, white bread, other refined grain products. Also to limit his consumption of saturated fats, which are found in red meat and many other animal products. He may be asked to avoid trans fats, which are present in many processed snack foods.
- Certain medications that help control the fat levels in the body.
- To get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week as this helps in breakdown of fat in the body.
- Sometimes. Vitamin E supplements may help prevent or treat liver damage. This is yet to be researched upon. Too much consumption of Vitamin E is also not advisable. It is best that the person talks to his doctor before he tries a new supplement or natural remedy. Some supplements or natural remedies might put stress on the liver or interact with medications taking.
- In dire situations, surgery or a Liver Transplant may be prescribed
As mentioned before Fatty Liver is a case which is reversible in most situations. But for the best outcome, it’s important to follow doctor’s recommended treatment plan and practice an overall healthy lifestyle as this can be prevented and we all know “Prevention is better than cure”