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Fatty Liver Disease: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

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Fatty Liver Disease

Even though little bit of fat in your liver is normal but fat in the amount of 5% to 10% of the total weight of the liver means fatty liver disease. Sometimes this disease may result in serious medical complications.

Fatty liver disease can be of two types -alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease.

fatty liver

Alcoholic liver disease (ALD)

Alcohol abuse leads to fatty livers. Fatty liver disease occurs if you drink large amount of alcohol. Even heavy drinking for a short period may result in fatty liver.

Genetics or heredity has a big role to play. It decides how much alcohol someone consumes and the possibility of the development of alcoholism. Genetics may also influence the levels of liver enzymes which break down alcohol.

The following factors may also increase the possibility of alcoholic fatty liver disease-

  • Hepatitis C
  • More iron
  • Diet
  • Obesity

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

NAFLD is considered as one of the most common causes of liver disease. In general fatty liver is not serious, even though not normal, unless it results in damage or inflammation.

In Another fatty liver disease called as non-alcoholic steatohepatisis (NASH), people who don't drink alcohol or drink little alcohol have fatty liver. NASH can result in permanent liver damage. In this condition, the liver may enlarge and scar tissues may replace the common liver cells. This condition is known as cirrhosis. It may lead to liver failure, liver related deaths and liver cancer.

Causes of NAFLD

The cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is not yet known. Some of the most common causes that are thought to increase the risk are-

  • Genetics
  • Middle age
  • obesity and overweight
  • medicines
  • rapid weight loss
  • viral hepatitis
  • malnutrition
  • autoimmune or inherited liver disease

Symptoms of fatty liver disease

Fatty liver disease generally does not produce any symptoms at this initial stage. When it advances after a long duration of time, it may show symptoms like-

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Confusion, impaired judgment,
  • Trouble concentrating
  • An enlarged liver
  • Pain in the center or right upper part of the abdomen
  • Patchy, dark skin discoloration, generally on the underarm area or neck.

In case of cirrhosis, the following symptoms are generally seen-

  • Fluid retention
  • Muscle wasting
  • Internal bleeding
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Liver failure

Treatment of fatty liver disease

Even though, no specific treatment is available for fatty liver disease today, you can always treat the underlying disease like diabetes. It can also take measures to improve your present condition.

  • In case of alcoholic liver disease, you will need to quit drinking to save yourself. If you continue drinking alcohol when you have ALD, it will advance the disease and may result in cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis. People with NAFLD should also avoid alcohol.
  • If you are obese or overweight, you should lose weight but lose it gradually.
  • Diet- you need to eat a balanced diet. Your diet should be healthy. It should also increase the level of physical activity. It will need to cut your calories and avoid diets with lots of refined carbohydrates. Do not eat foods like rice, bread, potatoes, concentrated sugar, corn etc. Avoid the juice and sports drinks.
  • If you can, stop using some medicines that interferes with reversal of the disease.
  • There are some vitamins and antioxidants that can help in treatment of fatty liver disease. They include- vitamin E, selenium, Metformin, Betaine, Rosiglitazone, Pioglitazone etc.
  • Try to get the vitamins and antioxidants to your diet.

If cirrhosis of the patient is severe, in that case the doctor may advise a liver transplant.


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