About Fatty Liver Disease
What is Fatty Liver Disease?
A condition caused by the build up of fat in the liver, usually seen in people who are over weight and/or obese.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease-known as NAFLD occurs when a healthy liver contains over 5% fat. A normal functioning, healthy liver should contain little or no fat. It is estimated that 30%-40% of Americans have this disease. Most show no visible signs or symptoms which makes the disease even more dangerous. Fatty Liver Disease should be treated as early as possible to avoid the increased risk of diabetes, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
NAFLD is a broad term for several different stages of the dangerous disease. Most cases of NAFLD have what’s known as simple fatty liver – more that 5% of the liver made up of fat cells. Fatty Liver Disease can be caused by excessive alcohol abuse which is known as AFLD (Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease).
Who is most at risk of Fatty Liver Disease?
you are at an increased risk of Fatty Liver Disease is you:
- Are obese or overweight
- Smoke regularly
- Over the age of 50
- Have type 2 diabetes
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
You are at a high risk of Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease – AFLD if you drink excessive amounts of alcohol regularly.
What are the symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease?
There are usually no symptoms in the early stages, but as the condition gradually gets worse you may notice:
- A dull ache or pain in the top right side of the tummy (lower right side of the rib cage)
- Extreme Fatigue
- Weight loss
In the most advanced stage, Cirrhosis develops and you can get more severe symptoms such as
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, which is known as jaundice
- Swelling in the ankles, legs, feet or tummy
- Itchy skin
What are the stages of Fatty Liver Disease?
If you don’t change your lifestyle, the disease will progress and lead to irreversible liver damage.
- First a large harmless amount of fat builds up in the liver cells. If the build up continues the liver will become inflamed.
- Fibrosis occurs-where constant inflammation causes scarring of the liver tissue and blood vessels nearby. The liver can still function at this stage.
- Lastly cirrhosis-The most dangerous stage. The inflammation causes the liver to shrink, becoming scarred and bumpy. The damage is permanent and leads to liver failure and most likely liver cancer.
Treatment for Fatty Liver Disease
There is currently no medication for Fatty Liver Disease, but choosing a healthy lifestyle can help you.
The main ways of managing are:
- Losing weight
- Quit smoking
- Regular Exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Do not drink alcohol
- Drinking alcohol will aggravate the liver and make the condition much worse.