Fatty Liver Disease
Also called: Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Alcoholic Steatohepatitis, NAFLD, NASH, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis
What is fatty liver disease?
The biggest organ in your body is your liver. It aids in the digestion of food, the storage of energy, and the removal of toxins from the body. Fatty liver disease is characterised by the accumulation of fat in the liver. There are two major categories:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease, also called alcoholic steatohepatitis
What is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?
NAFLD is a form of fatty liver disease that isn’t caused by drinking too much alcohol. There are two types of them:
- Simple fatty liver is characterised by the presence of fat in the liver but little or no inflammation or damage to the liver cells. Simple fatty liver seldom progresses to the point of causing liver damage or problems.
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a condition in which your liver is inflamed and damaged, as well as fatty. Fibrosis, or scarring of the liver, is caused by inflammation and liver cell destruction. Cirrhosis or liver cancer may develop as a result of NASH.
What is alcoholic fatty liver disease?
Heavy alcohol use causes alcoholic fatty liver disease. The majority of the alcohol you consume is broken down by your liver and excreted from your body. However, the process of dismantling it might result in the release of hazardous compounds. These chemicals can harm liver cells, cause inflammation, and compromise your body’s natural defences. The more alcohol you consume, the more harm you do to your liver. The first stage of alcohol-related liver disease is alcoholic fatty liver disease. Acute alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis are the following phases.
Who is at risk for fatty liver disease?
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has no recognized etiology. Researchers have discovered that it is more prevalent in those who:
- Diabetes type 2 and prediabetes
- Have you been diagnosed with obesity?
- Are you in your forties or fifties? (although children can also get it)
- Hispanics are the majority, followed by non-Hispanic whites. In African Americans, it is less prevalent.
- Have elevated blood fat levels, such as cholesterol and triglycerides
- Have a high blood pressure reading?
- Take some medications, such as corticosteroids and cancer medications.
- Certain metabolic abnormalities, such as metabolic syndrome, are present.
- Lose weight quickly
- Certain infections, such as hepatitis C, are present.
- Have you been exposed to toxins?
NAFLD affects nearly a quarter of the world’s population. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol are all on the rise in the United States, and NAFLD is no exception. In the United States, NAFLD is the most frequent chronic liver disease.
Heavy drinkers, especially those who have been drinking for a long time, are more likely to develop alcoholic fatty liver disease. Heavy drinkers who are female, obese, or have particular genetic abnormalities are at a greater risk.
What are the symptoms of fatty liver disease?
Both NAFLD and alcoholic fatty liver disease are frequently asymptomatic. You may feel weary or have discomfort in the upper right side of your abdomen if you experience symptoms.
How is fatty liver disease diagnosed?
Fatty liver disease is difficult to detect since it typically has no symptoms. If you get abnormal findings on liver tests that you underwent for other reasons, your doctor may believe you have it. Your doctor will utilise the following to make a diagnosis:
- Your medical background
- A physical examination
- Several tests, including blood and imaging tests, as well as a biopsy, may be required.
Your doctor will inquire about your alcohol consumption as part of your medical history to determine if the fat in your liver is an indication of alcoholic fatty liver disease or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). He or she will also inquire about your medications to see whether one of them is to blame for your NAFLD.
Your doctor will inspect your physique and measure your weight and height during the physical exam. Your doctor will search for fatty liver disease symptoms such as:
- A swollen liver
- Cirrhosis symptoms include jaundice, which causes the skin and whites of your eyes to become yellow.
Blood tests, such as liver function tests and blood count tests, will almost certainly be performed on you. Imaging tests, such as those that screen for fat in the liver and the stiffness of your liver, may be required in some circumstances. Fibrosis, or scarring of the liver, can cause hepatic stiffness. A liver biopsy may be required in some cases to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the liver damage.
What are the treatments for fatty liver disease?
For nonalcoholic fatty liver, doctors advise losing weight. Fat in the liver, inflammation, and fibrosis can all be reduced by losing weight. If your doctor believes a certain medication is causing your NAFLD, you should stop using it. However, consult your doctor before discontinuing your medication. It’s possible that you’ll need to go off the drug gradually and switch to a different one.
There are no FDA-approved medications to treat NAFLD. Additional research is needed to see if a specific diabetic drug or Vitamin E will assist, but more research is needed.
Stopping consuming alcohol is the most crucial element of treating alcoholic fatty liver disease. If you need assistance, consider seeing a therapist or enrolling in an alcohol treatment programme. There are other medications that can assist, either by lowering cravings or by making you ill if you consume alcohol.
Cirrhosis can be caused by both alcoholic fatty liver disease and one kind of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis). Medicines, surgery, and other medical treatments can be utilised to treat the health issues produced by cirrhosis. If your cirrhosis progresses to the point of liver failure, you may require a liver transplant.
What are some lifestyle changes that can help with fatty liver disease?
There are certain lifestyle adjustments that can assist if you have any of the kinds of fatty liver disease:
- Limit sodium and sugar in your diet, and eat plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
- Vaccinate against hepatitis A and B, influenza, and pneumococcal illness. Hepatitis A or B, when combined with fatty liver, is more likely to result in liver failure. The other two immunizations are especially crucial for those with chronic liver disease since they are more prone to catch infections.
- Regular exercise can assist you in losing weight and reducing liver fat.
- Before taking any dietary supplements, such as vitamins, or utilising any supplementary or alternative medications or medical practises, see your doctor.