Fatty liver disease: What is it? Causes and treatment

Fatty liver disease is a common medical issue that affects a significant number of people worldwide.  Also known as hepatic steatosis in medical terms , it occurs when your liver has an abnormally excess amount of accumulated fat. This condition is prevalent especially in those with diabetes and who are overweight.  Although it may not show any symptoms, it can cause serious health complications. Making lifestyle modifications is essential for preventing and improving the illness.  In this article, we will explore the causes of this condition, and find out how lifestyle changes can be a key ally in the fight against fatty liver, especially the non-alcoholic type. What exactly is fatty liver disease (FLD)? The liver is the primary organ in the body for digesting food and waste. A healthy liver has very little, if any, fat. When you consume too much alcohol or eat too much food, your body responds by converting part of the calories into fat. This fat is then stored in the cells of the liver. Fatty liver occurs when fat accounts for more than 5% to 10% of the total weight of your liver. Fatty liver disease is classified into two categories by doctors: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD):  A disease in which you have fat but no damage to your liver. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH):  A disease in which you have fat in your liver as well as symptoms of inflammation and liver cell destruction. What are the signs and symptoms of fatty liver? Most people don’t have any symptoms, therefore these conditions aren’t easy to diagnose. Those experiencing symptoms may: Feel fatigued or ill in general Suffer from pain in the upper right quadrant of their abdomen Experience reduction in weight The following are symptoms of more serious fatty liver disease: Jaundice Bruising Dark urine, enlarged stomach, vomiting blood, and black faeces Itchiness of the skin Causes of fatty liver disease  Fatty liver is frequently caused by a combination of causes over time. The following are the most common causes of fatty liver: Being obese or overweight, particularly in the abdomen (tummy) Diabetes mellitus type 2 or insulin resistance Having high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels Excessive alcohol consumption Less common reasons include: An underactive thyroid Certain medicines Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) Complications that develop late in pregnancy. Diagnosis of fatty liver disease  The following tests may be ordered by your doctor to find out if you have fatty liver disease: Liver function tests and liver imaging are used to detect and monitor liver disease and damage. Enzymes are proteins found in the cells of your liver. When these cells are destroyed, the enzymes are released into the bloodstream and can be quantified. When your liver is injured, the levels of these enzymes rise above normal. Fibrosis assessment tests are used to determine the extent of liver scarring (fibrosis). These blood tests yield a score that estimates your level of scarring or fibrosis in the liver. A lipid profile is used to assess blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Other blood tests to rule out other causes of FLD, such as hepatitis C and Wilson disease (a rare hereditary disorder), are performed. Treatment for fatty liver disease  While there are no authorised medicines for NAFLD, fatty liver disease can be best managed with lifestyle changes. Losing weight is usually the first line of treatment. It aids in the reduction of fat, inflammation, and scarring in the liver. Losing merely 3% to 5% of your body weight can reduce the amount of fat in your liver. If you have a lot of weight to lose, weight loss surgery is another possibility. You must also stop drinking and smoking. It’s the only method to protect liver damage from worsening. You might even be able to reverse some of the liver damage that has already occurred. Discuss your options with your doctor. Self-Care for fatty liver disease Changes in lifestyle that can help: Increase your physical activity. Try to be active for at least 30 minutes every day of the week. If you’re attempting to reduce weight, you could discover that doing more exercise is beneficial. However, if you don’t currently exercise consistently, consult your doctor first and begin slowly. Be gentle with your liver. Avoid doing anything that will make it work harder. Avoid alcohol. Take prescription and over-the-counter medications exactly as directed. Before attempting any natural therapies, consult your doctor. Simply because a product is natural does not imply that it is safe. Reduce your cholesterol. Eat a plant-based diet, ex

Fatty liver disease: What is it? Causes and treatment

Fatty liver disease is a common medical issue that affects a significant number of people worldwide. 

Also known as hepatic steatosis in medical terms , it occurs when your liver has an abnormally excess amount of accumulated fat. This condition is prevalent especially in those with diabetes and who are overweight. 

Although it may not show any symptoms, it can cause serious health complications. Making lifestyle modifications is essential for preventing and improving the illness. 

In this article, we will explore the causes of this condition, and find out how lifestyle changes can be a key ally in the fight against fatty liver, especially the non-alcoholic type.

What exactly is fatty liver disease (FLD)?

The liver is the primary organ in the body for digesting food and waste. A healthy liver has very little, if any, fat. When you consume too much alcohol or eat too much food, your body responds by converting part of the calories into fat. This fat is then stored in the cells of the liver. Fatty liver occurs when fat accounts for more than 5% to 10% of the total weight of your liver.

Fatty liver disease is classified into two categories by doctors:

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD):

 A disease in which you have fat but no damage to your liver.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): 

A disease in which you have fat in your liver as well as symptoms of inflammation and liver cell destruction.

What are the signs and symptoms of fatty liver?

Most people don’t have any symptoms, therefore these conditions aren’t easy to diagnose.

Those experiencing symptoms may:

  • Feel fatigued or ill in general
  • Suffer from pain in the upper right quadrant of their abdomen
  • Experience reduction in weight

The following are symptoms of more serious fatty liver disease:

  • Jaundice
  • Bruising
  • Dark urine, enlarged stomach, vomiting blood, and black faeces
  • Itchiness of the skin

Causes of fatty liver disease 

Fatty liver is frequently caused by a combination of causes over time.

The following are the most common causes of fatty liver:

  • Being obese or overweight, particularly in the abdomen (tummy)
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2 or insulin resistance
  • Having high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Less common reasons include:

  • An underactive thyroid
  • Certain medicines
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Complications that develop late in pregnancy.

Diagnosis of fatty liver disease 

The following tests may be ordered by your doctor to find out if you have fatty liver disease:

  • Liver function tests and liver imaging are used to detect and monitor liver disease and damage. Enzymes are proteins found in the cells of your liver. When these cells are destroyed, the enzymes are released into the bloodstream and can be quantified. When your liver is injured, the levels of these enzymes rise above normal.
  • Fibrosis assessment tests are used to determine the extent of liver scarring (fibrosis). These blood tests yield a score that estimates your level of scarring or fibrosis in the liver.
  • A lipid profile is used to assess blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Other blood tests to rule out other causes of FLD, such as hepatitis C and Wilson disease (a rare hereditary disorder), are performed.

Treatment for fatty liver disease 

While there are no authorised medicines for NAFLD, fatty liver disease can be best managed with lifestyle changes.

Losing weight is usually the first line of treatment. It aids in the reduction of fat, inflammation, and scarring in the liver. Losing merely 3% to 5% of your body weight can reduce the amount of fat in your liver. If you have a lot of weight to lose, weight loss surgery is another possibility.

You must also stop drinking and smoking. It’s the only method to protect liver damage from worsening. You might even be able to reverse some of the liver damage that has already occurred. Discuss your options with your doctor.

Self-Care for fatty liver disease

Changes in lifestyle that can help:

  • Increase your physical activity. Try to be active for at least 30 minutes every day of the week. If you’re attempting to reduce weight, you could discover that doing more exercise is beneficial. However, if you don’t currently exercise consistently, consult your doctor first and begin slowly.
  • Be gentle with your liver. Avoid doing anything that will make it work harder. Avoid alcohol. Take prescription and over-the-counter medications exactly as directed. Before attempting any natural therapies, consult your doctor. Simply because a product is natural does not imply that it is safe.
  • Reduce your cholesterol. Eat a plant-based diet, exercise, and take your medications as directed. This maintain your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
  • Control your diabetes. Check your blood sugar levels and take your medications as directed by your doctor.
  • Eat healthy foods.  Limit high-fat foods, saturated fats, as well as foods and drinks with a lot of refined sugars (such as sweetened sodas, sports drinks, juices, and ice cream). Opt for a diet rich in fibre, antioxidants and healthy acids. Consume low-glycemic-index foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Closing thoughts 

Fatty liver disease is characterised by an accumulation of fat in the liver. One cause of this syndrome is excessive alcohol consumption. The other, more common form, does not have a definite cause, but obesity and diabetes can raise your risk of having it. Fortunately, you may prevent or even repair liver damage by making lifestyle and dietary changes such as eating healthier, getting more exercise, and cutting back on alcohol.