Fatty liver, which is among the most common liver problems, causes an accumulation of fat in the cells of the liver. Although fatty liver disease is usually not a life-threatening condition, not treating it on time can lead to several health complications. A high fat diet is the most common cause of fatty liver disease. There are quite a few other factors too like excessive alcohol intake, which can lead to the development of this liver condition.
A liver that contains little fat or no fat at all is considered to be healthy. When the amount of fat accumulated in the liver exceeds about five to ten percent of the liver’s weight, then the person is said to be suffering from fatty liver disease. Mild cases of fatty liver usually do not produce any symptoms or complications. However, excess deposition of fat can lead to serious liver problems like liver failure, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. Mild cases of fatty liver disease are referred to as hepatic steatosis, whereas serious ones are called as steatohepatitis.
Causes of Fatty Liver Disease
Excessive alcohol consumption is the main cause of fatty liver disease. Other common causes of this liver problem include obesity caused due to a high fat diet and sedentary lifestyle. High blood pressure, diabetes, rapid weight loss, and insulin resistance can all led to the development of this liver problem. In rare cases, gastric bypass surgery might be responsible for fatty liver disease.
Other factors that play a part in causing this problem include malnutrition, long term use of certain prescription drugs, high cholesterol levels, inflammatory disease, hepatitis C, and HIV.
Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease
Some common symptoms of this liver disease include dull pain in the right abdomen, fatigue, fever, and yellowing of skin and the eyes. Steatohepatitis may eventually lead to scar tissues or the formation of fibrosis in the liver. This can produce symptoms like liver enlargement, nausea, easy bruising and bleeding, discoloration of the skin, fatigue, and occasional pain in the right abdomen.
Fibrosis, over a period of time, can worsen to become cirrhosis. This can in turn lead to liver failure or even liver cancer. Studies have shown that steatohepatitis takes about 8 to 15 years to develop into cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis is a very serious medical condition that can cause various symptoms like jaundice, swelling in the legs, fluid retention, bleeding of esophageal veins, and gynecomastia.
Since mild cases of fatty liver disease do not cause any symptoms and might go unnoticed, it is recommended to have routine medical check-ups and blood tests to diagnose this condition.
Treating Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease is treated by taking care of the underlying cause of the problem. In case of fatty liver caused due to excessive alcohol consumption, completely stopping alcohol intake can help to treat the condition. It is very important to correctly diagnose the cause of fatty liver disease. This is because there are far too many problems that can lead to the development of this liver condition. People who are obese will have to lose weight to cure this problem. Identifying and diagnosing this condition at an early stage can ensure complete recovery.