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Fatty liver is a condition where excess fat is deposited on this organ. Also called as steatosis, this condition happens when more than 5- 10 percent of the weight of the liver is made up of fat.
Fatty liver is a common condition among people. A study from coastal regions of India found ~ 25% of healthy persons had patients had fatty liver on ultrasound.
It can occur at all ages including childhood, highest prevalence is in 40–50 year age group. Prevalence more in patient who are obese and in diabetic patients.
Types of Fatty Liver
1 Alcoholic fatty liver: This condition occurs when there is a heavy consumption of alcohol. Gastroenterologists recommend abstention from alcohol for this condition to subside. If the patient continues to consume alcohol, then liver cirrhosis may develop.
2 Non alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL): One may develop a fatty liver even if one is not an alcoholic. The liver in some cases is unable to process the fat in cells causing them to build-up on the organ.
When more than 10% of the liver is made of fat then this condition is called Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver (NAFL).
Non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): When fatty liver is associated with inflammation in liver patient is said to be having Non alcoholic steatohepatitis. NASH is a more advanced stage of NAFLD, and has a higher risk of progressing to liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). These condition display symptoms like jaundice, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite and abdominal pain. Blood test (LFT) shows raised enzymes level. Approx 5-8% of the Indian population has NASH. Consult a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
During the early stages (fatty liver) of the disease, patients usually have no symptoms directly related to liver disease. However, people may experience a vague abdominal discomfort. If their liver is inflamed (NASH) then they may display symptoms of poor appetite, weight loss, pain in the abdomen and disorientation.
What causes fatty liver?
The most common cause of fatty liver is alcoholism. When the human liver is unable to metabolize fat fast enough or when there is an excess accumulation of fat on the liver cells then the liver becomes fatty. However, intake of high-fat foods may not result in a fatty liver.
- Diabetes mellitus
- Obesity or being overweight
- Hyperlipidemia or the condition where there are high levels of fat in the blood
- Genetic reasons
- Rapid loss of weight
- Drugs: Aspirin, steroids, tamoxifen, tetracycline etc. cause side effects which also leads to fatty liver
- Nutritional status (eg, overnutrition, severe malnutrition, total parenteral nutrition [TPN], or starvation diet)
- Other health problems (eg, Hepatitis C infection, celiac sprue and Wilson disease)