Fatty Liver: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
September 1, 2019
Fatty liver is a typical condition in which there is buildup of certain fats in the liver. When the percentage of fat in the liver is more that 5 to 10 percent of the liver’s total weight, it is considered as fatty liver disease. Excess fat in liver cells usually triglycerides causes inflammation of the liver. Fatty liver disease is usually diagnosed in adults of age 50-60 years and fortunately is a reversible condition. If the damage to the liver has been long-term, the condition may not be reversible.
The second largest organ – liver, is the powerhouse of the body performing 500 functions. The liver is the only internal organ that regenerates itself and is a chemical factory which filters toxins in the body.
Primary functions of the liver include:
- Production and excretion of bile
- Metabolism of macronutrients – fat, proteins and carbohydrates
- Excretion of cholesterol, hormones, bilirubin and drugs
- Storage of glycogen, vitamins and minerals
- Detoxification and purification of blood
- Activation of enzymes
- Synthesis of plasma proteins
In India, liver disease is the 10th most common cause of mortality according to WHO. And the medical experts predict by the year 2025, India will lead the world in liver diseases.
Fatty liver disease is of two forms, alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Alcoholic fatty liver disease caused due to excess alcohol consumption is the early stage of alcohol related liver conditions. Over time, too much drinking leads to fat accumulation in the liver cells. Some alcohol related liver damage can be reversed if drinking is stopped and healing process starts within few days.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the major cause of liver cirrhosis globally. It is a condition in which there is very little or no alcohol consumption. Due to increased prevalence of obesity, diabetes, intake of highly processed foods and sedentary living, NAFLD is an emerging issue leading to scarring of the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may lead to NASH (Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis) in which there is inflammation and liver cell damage.
Causes of fatty liver disease include:
- Certain medications
- Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance
- Metabolic disorders
Signs & Symptoms:
Fatty liver disease is silent condition and does not show any symptoms. Some of the signs that may show up include:
- Weakness and tiredness
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling of fullness
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Elevated liver enzymes
Diagnosis of fatty liver disease is done usually during routine checkups. Further test advised to diagnose include physical examination, blood tests to check for liver enzymes, ultrasound and liver biopsy.
Treatment & Management of fatty liver disease:
- In alcoholic fatty liver diseases, Alcohol must be strictly avoided.
- For non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, lifestyle changes such as improving physical activity, healthy diet and reducing weight are advised.
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may lead to liver cirrhosis, which can be treated with medications or other medical procedures. However, if there is severe scarring of liver leading to acute liver failure, liver transplantation may be the only treatment option.
Dr. Rela Hospital is one of the Best Liver Hospitals in Chennai, treating all kinds of liver diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, hepatitis. Our top fatty liver treatment doctors specialize in treating patients with different liver ailments and end stage liver disease. For critical liver conditions requiring liver transplantation, Rela Hospital – the best liver transplantation hospital in Chennai, India, designed with state-of-the-art liver care centre, is the preferred destination for people from across the world.