What is Fatty Liver Disease?
Fatty Liver Disease or silent liver disease, as evidenced by the name, is related to the liver having fats inside it, which later affects the liver. The fats accumulate inside the liver, which causes it to harden, which slows down its function. It is also called steatosis. A normal liver contains a small amount of fat, but when it increases to 5-10% of the liver’s weight, which is a caution. The disease has three stages.
1. Steatohepatitis is a condition in which the liver is swollen and inflamed, damaging its tissues.
2. Fibrosis causes scarring and hardening of the liver.
3. Cirrhosis is the extensive stage of scarred tissue replacing healthy ones.
This disease is differentiated into two types: one is called a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD. The other is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
What is liver function?
The liver plays an important role in a human’s body. The second-most significant organ, it serves the body in the ways listed below.
- It helps in the metabolism and production of bile to excrete waste.
- It produces proteins for blood plasma.
- Production of cholesterol is also made possible in the liver.
- The hemoglobin is processed in the liver for iron as it is stored in the liver.
- It also controls amino acids, which serve as the foundation for proteins.
- Poisonous ammonia is changed into urea.
- It clears the blood from drugs and other harmful substances as well.
- Blood clotting is regulated in the liver.
- The liver helps in making immune factors, and bacteria is removed from the bloodstream with the help of the liver.
- Bilirubin, a yellowish pigment that is made during the breakdown of red blood cells, is cleared, as the accumulation of this element causes the skin and eyes to turn yellow.
- The liver breaks down harmful substances, and few products are excreted into the bile, which ultimately leaves the body through feces.
- Other waste items are removed from the body through urine after being filtered by the kidney.
What Kind of Diseases You Can Get From Fatty Liver?
As mentioned above, fatty liver illnesses are in two varieties: alcoholic and non-alcoholic, as was already discussed. Let’s examine the two in further depth.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is often diagnosed when fat accumulates in the liver, despite the patient’s abstinence from alcohol (NAFLD). This condition causes inflammation in the liver with no backup of alcohol. If not treated timely, it may cause fibrosis that leads to liver failure.
Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
This type of liver disease is related to excessive drinking of alcohol and may or may not cause fat inflammation.
Not only that, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, obesity, sleep deprivation, diabetes, and underactive thyroid are a few other side effects caused by the fatty liver.
Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy (AFLP)
This condition develops in the third trimester of pregnancy though the reasons are unknown genetics could be one reason. This condition should be treated otherwise it could be dangerous for both the baby and mother. The treatment should begin as soon as the baby is delivered.
Fatty Liver Symptoms Diseases
The fatty liver disease sometimes silently attacks the body with no symptoms. Often NAFLD develops without hindering the liver.
Some of the fatty liver disease symptoms are:
· Scarring and hardening of the liver
· Itchy skin
· Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
· Accumulation of blood vessels on the skin
Moreover, fluid retention, bleeding, pain in the abdomen, dark-colored liver disease urine color, pale stools, and breast enlargement in men are a few more symptoms of the disease. If not treated well, it may worsen and liver failure and transplantation of the liver are also needed.
The diagnoses of the disease can be found by regular check-ups and related tests like special ultrasound, MRI scan, or liver biopsy.
Fatty Liver Disease Treatments
Fatty liver disease has no specific medicine. Instead, doctors prescribe to avoid the factors which contribute to the development of the disease such as:
- To avoid alcohol
- To lose weight
- Control diseases that have indirect relation with the liver like diabetes cholesterol, and triglycerides (fats in the blood).
- It is also advised to stay healthy
- Do regular exercise
- Avoid the consumption of excessive alcohol.
- Therapy can also be adopted to avoid the increase in the symptoms.
- Cutting out processed food, carbs, and sugar and intake of vitamin E is also a solution to avoid the disease.
- Losing 10% of your weight can also control the disease to some extent.
- You should also control blood sugar because diabetes also increases the chances of the fats in the liver.
Signs That Your Liver Is Healing
Although fatty liver disease doesn’t give a good picture, the wonderful news is that your liver can heal and regenerate. A reversal of the disease is possible, which is visible in the body when memory and focus sharpen the patient. The affected’s weight increases, the appetite is lost and the yellowish tone of the skin whitens. The pain of the inflammation also decreases.
The liver is the largest organ in the body and is responsible for producing bile. The signs that show that your liver is healing are:
- Enable blood clotting
- Conversion of glucose to glycogen
- Elimination of the drugs from the body
- Improved processing of proteins
- Improved color
- Stabilized weight
- Sharp mind
- Reduced pain
- A soothed stomach
Life Expectancy With Fatty Liver Diseases
About 30% can live a natural life without acquiring the symptoms or complications of the disease. People stay healthy despite suffering from the disease following a normal routine. The life expectancy with fatty liver disease decreases from 3 to 4 years because such patients develop other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular or diabetes. However, proper and regular follow-up of the disease takes place may decrease the risk of death.
Nevertheless, end stage liver disease can be avoided or its conditions can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle as recommended by doctors.
– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.
About The AuthorDr. Syra Hanif M.D.
Board Certified Primary Care Physician
Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.Read More