Fatty Liver Disease | Stay Cautious before it turns fatal
Fatty liver disease, as the name suggests, this disease is associated with your liver. Though it is very common among western regions, still it is a matter of concern for you.
The reason being, if it develops complications, then it can be life-threatening. In the earlier stages, you may not develop severe symptoms. Mere fatigue or discomfort in the upper right abdomen are a few signs.
These symptoms are quite common in case of any other ill conditions. So, this can be one reason why it does not get diagnosed in the starting phases.
However, if you don’t get treatment in earlier phases, then it can later develop complications for you. That is why it is always good to learn beforehand & know the possible preventive measures.
In this way, you can take all the preventive actions that are possible. In the end, it will be fruitful for you. You can minimize the risks of turning it into a worse situation.
In this article, you will get a complete overview of fatty liver disease. You will get full knowledge about the causes, symptoms, & treatments. In the end, you will also find precautionary measures that you must follow. Following these measures is the way to protect yourself from its worsening effects.
What’s in it for me?
- What is Fatty liver disease?
- Types & causes of fatty liver disease
- Symptoms of fatty liver disease
- How does the liver situation get worse?
- Disease diagnosis
- Possible clinical treatments
- Diet & precautionary actions to follow
So, let’s identify every element of this illness condition.
1. What is Fatty liver disease?
It is an illness condition in which your liver builds up extra fat. A little fat is naturally present in your liver which is normal. However, if it starts to accumulate unwanted fat, then it is a condition to worry.
As said above, it is not that serious in the starting stages. Nevertheless, it can develop into severe complications if left untreated.
2. Types & causes of fatty liver disease
Majority of causes of fatty liver disease are known. It happens when the fat intake is too high in your body and it is not efficient enough to metabolize it.
Also, consuming a lot of alcohol causes alcoholic fatty liver disease.
However, speaking in a broader sense, two types prevail in every case. One is Alcohol-related Fatty Liver Disease(ALD) & other is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease(NAFLD).
● Alcohol-related Fatty Liver Disease(ALD)
The first reason you might develop this condition is because of heavy alcohol consumption practices. If you enjoy drinking quite regularly, then you must be careful. It’s because when your liver breaks down alcohol, then the process can release harmful substances. These substances can eventually damage your liver cells.
● Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease(NAFLD)
The second reason implies that you can suffer through it even if you do not consume alcohol. Causes so far can be one or more of the below:
- Can have insulin resistance.
- You are a type 2 diabetic patient.
- You have pre-diabetes.
- Can suffer from obesity or are overweight.
- You have high-fat levels, especially, triglycerides.
- You have, genetic cause, hepatitis infection, old age.
The combination of one or more above-stated conditions might lead to NAFLD.
It is common in old age people, diabetic patients, & people whose body fat accumulates in the abdomen. Also, you can get affected by it if you are an African-American person.
3. Symptoms of fatty liver disease
There are no defined fatty liver disease symptoms that you will surely experience if you develop it. In a broader sense, you can experience the below symptoms if you have suffered from the first stage of this illness.
- Pain or uneasy feeling in the upper right abdomen.
NAFLD can later develop into Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis(NASH). In this stage, you can suffer from liver inflammation. This condition can develop into advanced scarring. The scarring can lead to cirrhosis. Consequently, these conditions will damage your liver which will lead to liver failure.
The most probable symptoms of cirrhosis include:
- Swelling in abdominal areas
- Spleen enlargement
- Red palms
- Enlarged blood vessels that are present beneath the skin surface
- Yellowness in eyes & skin (jaundice)
All these are the possible symptoms of fatty liver disease that you might experience. You must stay cautious if you experience any of these signs & symptoms persistently. Make sure that you visit the doctor immediately if a condition prevails.
4. How does the liver situation get worse?
If you don’t get treatment of a disease, it can get worse eventually. But how exactly do the conditions turn bad? Let’s understand it.
Excess fat present in your liver can lead to inflammation. This, later on, leads to scar tissue development or cirrhosis in your liver. It happens due to inflammation.
In response to it, your liver tries to halt inflammation. The situation produces scarring areas or fibrosis. If the infection spreads, then it starts to damage other healthy tissues in your liver.
This health condition can further lead to:
- Fluid build up in the abdominal areas
- Confusion, drowsy feelings, & slurred speech
- Swelling, rupture, & bleeding in oesophagus veins
- Liver cancer
- Liver failure
5. Disease diagnosis
Since you do not develop significant symptoms, the diagnosis becomes difficult. However, health experts might use certain techniques to figure out whether you have it or not. These clinical methods are as said below:
● Past health history
Your previous lifestyle can disclose many useful things to your doctor. It will help in the right diagnosis. Your alcohol consumption in the past can reveal the type of disease. In other words, if you drink alcohol for a long time, then your chances of developing ALD are high. On the other side, no alcohol consumption can conclude to NAFLD. That is how it helps doctors in fatty liver disease diagnosis.
● Physical tests
Your body weight can tell about possible exposure to disease. Also, physical examination can reveal enlarged liver conditions or jaundice. These signs make the doctor’s task easy.
● Blood tests
These tests are essential to understand the proportions of liver enzymes in your body. High levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) are warning signs. It indicates the problem with your liver.
● Imaging test
Ultrasound, FibroScan and in rare cases, CT Scans and MRI scan can help detect the fat present in your liver. Such a diagnosis can give a better direction to your treatment. However, even though you get to know if there is any extra fat in your liver, it is not possible to ascertain the severity. One cannot tell if you have early-stage fatty liver or a more complex one like NASH.
● Liver biopsy
If you are developing a severe condition or if the diagnosis, then your doctor can suggest a liver biopsy. These conditions refer to cirrhosis conditions.
In this procedure, your doctor removes a tissue sample from your liver. After that, it is sent to the laboratory to examine if there is any inflammation or damage. This is the single way to diagnose whether you have NASH.
6. Possible clinical treatments
By good dietary and lifestyle measures, fatty liver disease can be completely cured if its in an early stage. Reducing weight is another solution. This is how you can cut down fat deposition and inflammation. You can lose extra weight by natural remedies or can also undergo weight loss surgery.
Studies have revealed some role of Vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids, Pioglitazone in the reversal of the fatty liver disease. So, you can consult your doctor regarding these medicines.
If the complications prevail, then it can lead to cirrhosis or even liver failure. In such critical conditions, you might also need liver transplant surgery.
So, these were the limited fatty liver disease treatments you can consult with your healthcare specialist.
7. Diet & precautionary actions to follow
Even if there are limited treatments, you can always take care of your body. This is how you will ensure maximum safety. Your chances of developing this disease will get lowered.
So, what can you follow?
● Stop alcohol consumption
One reason to develop this life-threatening disease could be alcohol consumption. So, you can better stop consuming alcohol to protect yourself. This is how you can become kind with your liver functionality. As a result of which, you will be safer. Also, the risks of turning this disease fatal will become minimal.
● Keep your diabetes in check
High sugar is also one of the reasons for developing NAFLD. So, you must take regular medication as per your doctor’s advice. It will help you in keeping your blood sugar levels under control.
● Keep your cholesterol low
You must put efforts to keep your cholesterol levels down. Otherwise, it can become the bigger cause to develop this disease. You can eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and take your medications. All these things followed together will help you stay balanced. Your triglyceride levels will remain neutral.
● Avoid taking medicines immediately after drinking
You should always confirm with your doctor the best time to take medicines. Also, you can check the medicine labels to check if there are any warning signs. In many cases, taking medicines directly after alcohol consumption can badly affect your liver. Otherwise, it can damage or inflame your liver areas which later develops into threatening fatty liver disease.
Alt-text: Image depicting to eat healthy food & take medicines to fight against fatty liver disease
● Eat healthy food & exercise regularly
You should follow an all-round healthy fatty liver disease diet regularly. This is how you can stay fit every time. It will also keep your liver healthy. Ultimately, your risks of being affected by this disease will get minimized.
So to conclude, you must always be careful about your health. It is a god-given gift which if deteriorates, can cause you higher! As there are a few treatment plans to cure fatty liver disease, you must stay alert every time.
In the end, make sure that you are following a balanced diet consistently. Also, you must always have a routine check-up. It will help you learn whether your blood sugar & cholesterol is under control or not. If not, you can take immediate actions to keep it in control.
Always remember that health is the rich wealth you ever get in your life! So, stay cautious before it turns fatal.
Also you can read our blog on Things You Should Know About An MRI scan
- Can we prevent fatty liver disease?
Following the right diet & exercise can help you prevent this disease. However, if you develop NASH or cirrhosis, then you must always see a doctor regularly.
- Is fatty liver condition dangerous?
Yes, if you develop cirrhosis which is an advanced phase, then it becomes non-curable. There are limited treatments available to cure this disease.
- What is bad for your liver health?
Alcohol consumption is harmful to the well-being of a healthy liver.
- Do I need a liver transplant to cure fatty liver?
Yes, the last phases can demand a liver transplant due to liver failure.
- How to keep your liver healthy?
You can have a nutrient-rich diet & follow daily exercise to keep your liver healthy.
Dr. Rishab Sharma
Dr. Rishab Sharma MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine) He is associated with Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur. Dr. Rishab has wide experience in managing a variety of diseases, as well as managing critical care units in large government and corporate hospitals.