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Fatty Liver Disease - Signs You Are Suffering From It!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, DNB - Internal Medicine, DNB - Gastroenterology
Gastroenterologist, Delhi  •  23 years experience
Fatty Liver Disease - Signs You Are Suffering From It!

Having some fat in your liver is legit. But, if you have too much of fat say more than 5%-10% of the organ's weight then you are at risk of getting fatty liver disease. At the onset, you can do one important thing to help your liver stop drinking. It causes fatty liver disease.

There are two main types of fatty liver disease

Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD)

  • You can get ALD from drinking lots of alcohol. ALD can also present itself after a short period of heavy drinking.
  • Genetics has a role to play in ALD. Genes can make you hit the bottle and increase your chances of becoming an alcoholic.
  • Genes can also impact the way your body breaks down the alcohol you drink.

Other root causes of ALD are:

  • Hep C doesn't cause ALD. it is one of the causes of fatty liver.
  • Hep B is also a cause of fatty liver. There are certain medications which may be helpful from person to person besides lifestyle management.
  • Excess iron in your body
  • Obesity

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
The cause of NAFLD is not clear, but we know that it tends to run in families.
NAFLD is also more common in the middle-aged and the obese or, those who have high cholesterol and diabetes.

Other risk factors are:

  • Certain medicines
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Auto-immune or inherited liver disease
  • Gaining weight fast
  • Malnutrition
  • Acute Fatty Liver during Pregnancy
  • Fat can build up in your liver when you're pregnant, causing this kind of fatty liver disease.
  • It’s a serious condition as it can be risky for both you and your baby. It can cause liver or kidney failure in you and your child, both.
  • Causes are unknown. But, hormones may play a role.

Symptoms of fatty liver disease
This disease can sometimes cause no symptoms for long. But, the things to look out for are-

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • General weakness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion and trouble concentrating
  • Your liver can become larger
  • Pain in the centre or right upper part of your belly

In ALD, your symptoms get worse after bouts of heavy drinking. Fatty liver disease is diagnosed during routine exams when your doctor notices your enlarged liver. Ultrasound, blood tests to check for certain enzymes and biopsy of the liver are performed to confirm it.

Treatment

  • There is no specific treatment for the fatty liver disease.
  • You can manage it by managing your diabetes and giving up drinking. If you have ALD and you don’t quit, you get complications like alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis.
  • Even if you have a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcohol cessation helps.
  • Losing weight if you are overweight also helps to manage this disease and having a good balanced diet with exercise also shows benefits. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Gastroenterologist.
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