Table of Contents
What is fatty liver disease?
Your liver is the largest organ in your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove toxins. Fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat accumulates in your liver. There are two main types:
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Alcoholic fatty liver disease also called alcohol steatohepatitis
What is a nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?
NAFLD is a type of fatty liver disease that is not related to heavy alcohol use. There are two types:
Fatty liver, when you have fat in your liver but little or no inflammation or damage to the liver cells. Simple fatty liver is often not bad enough to cause liver damage or problems.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), in which you have inflammation and damage to your liver cells, as well as fatty liver. Inflammation and damage to the liver cells can cause fibrosis, or scars, on the liver. NASH may lead to cirrhosis or cancer of the liver.
What is fatty liver disease?
Fatty liver disease is caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Your liver destroys most of the alcohol you drink, so it can be removed from your body. But the demolition process can produce harmful substances. These substances can damage liver cells, promote inflammation, and weaken your body’s natural defenses. If you drink too much alcohol, it can damage your liver. Alcoholic fatty liver disease is the first stage of alcohol-related liver disease. The next stages are alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Who is at risk for fatty liver disease?
The cause of the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is unknown.
Researchers know that this phenomenon is most common in humans:
- Have type 2 diabetes and prediabetes
- Be overweight
- They are middle-aged or older (although children can get it)
- Is Hispanic, followed by non-Hispanic whites. It is not uncommon for African Americans.
- Have high levels of fat in the blood, such as cholesterol and triglycerides
- Have high blood pressure
- Take certain drugs, such as corticosteroids and other cancer medications
- Have certain metabolic problems, including metabolic syndrome
- Gain weight fast
- Get certain infections, such as hepatitis C
Have you ever been exposed to poison?
NAFLD affects about 25% of the world’s population. As obesity levels, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol rise in the United States, so does the level of NAFLD. NAFLD is a common chronic liver problem in the United States.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs only in people who drink heavily, especially those who have been drinking for a long time. The risk is higher for heavy drinkers who are women, overweight, or genetic.
What are the symptoms of fatty liver disease?
Both NAFLD and fatty liver disease are usually silent diseases with few or no symptoms. If you have symptoms, you may feel tired or uncomfortable in the upper right part of your abdomen.
How is a fatty liver disease diagnosed?
Because there are usually no symptoms, it is not easy to get oily liver disease. Your doctor may suspect that you do have it if you experience unusual results in your liver test for other reasons. To make a diagnosis, your doctor will use:
- Your medical history
- Physical examination
Various tests, including blood and image tests, and sometimes a biopsy
As part of your medical history, your doctor will inquire about your use of alcohol, determining if your liver oil is a sign of alcoholism or nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD). She will also ask you what medications you are taking, to try and find out if the medication is causing your NAFLD.
During a physical exam, your doctor will examine your body and check your weight and height. Your doctor will look for signs of fatty liver disease, such as:
Symptoms of cirrhosis, such as jaundice, is a condition that causes the skin and whites of your eyes to turn yellow
You will probably have a blood test, which includes a liver function test and a blood test. In some cases, you may have a medical examination, such as those examining your liver fat and liver function. Liver cirrhosis can mean fibrosis, which is a scarring of the liver. In some cases, you may need a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the liver damage.
What are the treatments for fatty liver disease?
Doctors recommend weight loss with non-alcoholic fatty liver. Weight loss will be followed by fatigue and constant tiredness. If your doctor thinks a certain drug is the cause of your NAFLD, you should stop taking that medication. But check with your doctor before stopping the treatment. You may need to gradually reduce your medication, and you may need to switch to another medication.
There is no prescriptive drug that will stop the flow of emotions, though their effects can be curtailed. Research is investigating whether a specific diabetes medication or Vitamin E may be helpful, but further research is needed.
The most important part of treating alcohol-related liver disease is quitting alcohol. If you need help with doing so, you may want to see a therapist or participate in an alcohol recovery program. Some medications can help, reduce appetite or make you sick when you drink alcohol.
Both alcoholic fatty liver disease and one type of fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) can lead to cirrhosis. Doctors can treat health problems caused by hepatitis with medication, surgery, and other treatments. If cirrhosis leads to liver failure, you may need a liver transplant.
What other lifestyle changes can help with fatty liver disease?
If you have any type of fatty liver disease, some lifestyle changes can help:
- Eat a healthy diet, reduce salt and sugar, and eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, influenza, and pneumococcal disease.