The liver is an internal organ located in the upper abdomen that helps your body get rid of toxins and process the nutrients derived from food. It filters out the blood coming from the digestive system before it is passed to other parts of the body. A condition where fat gets accumulated inside your liver over time is known as fatty liver. This accumulation could hamper the functioning of the organ and lead to its damage.
It is also referred to as hepatic steatosis. The causes of fatty liver are plenty and is most commonly a result of lifestyle choices. Some genes could also lead to fatty liver disease. The disorder could be a result of excessive alcohol consumption and is known as alcoholic fatty liver disease. In case the build-up of fat is due to a reason other than alcohol, the disease is termed as Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Causes of fatty liver
The fatty liver could be a result of a variety of factors. It could eventually be extremely harmful to the well-being of your body. This is why it is critical to know and understand the causes of this disease. Consumption of excess calories, which the liver is not able to process, leads to the formation of fatty liver. Alcohol consumption, diabetes, obesity etc., are the leading causes of fatty liver that affect the proper functioning of the liver. Some genetic conditions may also predispose a person to the development of this condition.
Risk factors associated with fatty liver
A fatty liver could be formed due to a variety of reasons. Some factors that increase the risk of development of the disease are listed below:
- Diet rich in fats
- Alcohol consumption
- Rapid weight loss
- High blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
- Exposure to certain toxic substances
Symptoms of fatty liver
In some cases, the disease shows no visible symptoms. It is accompanied by pain and discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen in certain patients. The most common symptoms that a person with a fatty liver will show include:
- Losing appetite
- Abdominal swelling
- Yellowing of eyes and skin
- Swelling of legs
- Weight loss
The diagnosis of the disease is difficult since the symptoms are absent in most patients until it’s too late. In case you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately seek medical help. The diagnostic tests that are run include:
- Checking the medical background of the patient to find out if they consume alcohol or have the genes that could be causing the condition
- Physical examination to test for signs of inflammation
- Blood tests
- Imaging studies such as ultrasound and CT scan
- A biopsy is done in severe cases to test how severe the liver malfunctioning is
The tests are run to determine the severity of the disease and find out how far it has progressed. The course of the treatment is then determined based on this.
Complications associated with fatty liver
The proper functioning of the liver is necessary for the body to remain healthy and free of toxins. If the health of your liver is compromised, it could put you at risk of severe diseases. There can be several complications of fatty liver if it is left untreated. If there is severe inflammation of the liver as a result of fat accumulation, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis could be formed, which has far worse consequences. Other complications that this disease can have include:
- Excessive scarring of the liver, which is a result of inflammation, can lead to cirrhosis.
- In some cases, the inflammation could lead to liver cancer.
- If the liver stops functioning (liver failure), the person could require a transplant of the liver.
- There is more risk of heart attack for people with fatty liver.
How to prevent fatty liver formation
Lifestyle changes can help you avoid the formation of fatty liver. Understanding the causes of fatty liver can help avoid the formation of the condition. Timely diagnosis and proper treatment are essential for people with a fatty liver. Some tips that can help avoid fatty liver are:
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol. This is considered to be the leading cause of the disease.
- Maintain a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Try to stick to a healthy weight.
- Exercising and staying physically active can help you avoid this condition.
With timely treatment and seeking the help of a well-qualified medical practitioner, you can avoid the complications of fatty liver that can put your health and life at risk. Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet can prevent the build-up of fat inside your liver and keep it functioning well. Pay attention to the health of your liver to stay healthy and keep the toxins away from your body.