What is the Causes, Symptoms , Treatment of Fatty Liver ?
Fatty Liver, scientifically known as “Hepatic Steatosis”, is a critical state of the human liver where there occurs excessive deposition of fat in the liver. In normal condition, the human liver is tolerant to a small number of fats in it, but too much of it can pose a severe health issue. A human liver is considered to be fatty if it has more than 5% fat in it. Nowadays, due to unhealthy diet plans and intake of junk foods and alcohol, this disease is becoming increasingly common in different persons irrespective of age. On an average, this disease has affected about 20-25% of people globally.
Liver commonly heals itself by re-building the new liver cells and replacing the old damaged cells. However, repeated damage to the liver can cause permanent scarring, resulting in Liver Cirrhosis. So, it is essential to diagnose and cure fatty liver.
CAUSES OF FATTY LIVER:
There are various factors which can cause fatty liver. Some of them are listed below:
• Heavy alcohol consumption: During the metabolism of alcohol, it produces toxic metabolites like aldehydes. These metabolites cause fatty liver which commonly occurs with chronic alcoholism.
• Obesity: Obesity involves low-grade inflammation that may affect the fat storage in the liver. Approximately, 30-90% obese adults have Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
• Hyperlipidemia: It resembles high levels of fat in the blood. It is a known risk factor for fatty infiltration of the liver, which may cause liver cirrhosis and liver failure, if untreated initially.
• Diabetes: High insulin levels increase the liver fat storage in people with type 2-Diabetes.
• Frequent Consumption of refined carbs: High intake of refined carbs may lead to liver fat storage which in turn causes fatty liver diseases.
• Side effects of certain medications: Certain medicines have side effects on the liver. Such medications can also cause fatty liver after prolonged use.
TYPES OF FATTY LIVER DISEASE:
Broadly, fatty liver disease can be divided into two classes, namely:
1. NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE (NAFLD):
Many fatty liver conditions fall under the category of Non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease (NAFLD). This is the most common form of fatty liver in adults and children of the western countries. Non-alcoholic-fatty-liver (NAFL) is an early and reversible stage of fatty liver disease. However, if not diagnosed and treated in time, it may progress to the advanced stage and lead to a serious liver condition named Non-Alcoholic-Steatohepatitis (NASH).
NASH can progress to permanent scarring of the liver, liver cancer and eventually liver failure; if untreated.
2. ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE:
Alcohol fatty liver is the initial stage of alcohol-related liver disease. As mentioned above heavy alcohol consumption can cause fatty liver and eventually damage the liver. Excessive drinking of alcohol may cause inflammation, known as Alcoholic-Steatohepatitis, leading to liver cirrhosis.
SYMPTOMS OF FATTY LIVER:
Following are the various symptoms and signs of fatty liver:
• Fatigue & weakness
• Slight pain in the abdominal area
• Increased levels of liver enzymes such as AST and ALT
• Increased Insulin level
• Increased level of triglycerides
NASH has the following symptoms:
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea & vomiting
• Abdominal pain
• Yellowing of eyes and skin, leading to Jaundice
FATTY LIVER DIAGNOSIS:
Following are the several processes for diagnosing fatty liver:
1. Physical Diagnosis: Doctors examine the abdomen to detect enlarged liver as a sign of inflamed liver. However, sometimes the liver gets inflamed without being enlarged. So this is a vague process of fatty liver diagnosis.
2. Blood Tests: Liver inflammation causes higher levels of liver enzymes than usual, which can be tracked through routine blood tests. However, this process doesn’t confirm fatty liver but portrays details of liver inflammation.
3. Imaging Studies: Ultrasounds, City and MRI scans can evaluate the fat content in the liver. However, the extent of liver damage cannot be estimated through this method.
4. Liver Biopsy: In this method, a needle is inserted into the liver and a piece of tissue is collected as a sample for examination. This is the only way to know about the severity of fatty liver or other liver diseases.
TREATMENT OF FATTY LIVER:
Fatty liver can be treated in the following ways:
• Avoiding alcoholic beverages
• Managing cholesterol level
• Controlling sugar level
• Losing weight
• Following a healthy and balanced diet
• Medications (or supplements) if prescribed by a doctor
So, by following a healthy lifestyle and doing routine check-ups, diseases like fatty liver and others can be prevented as well as overall health can be maintained.