Fatty liver is a common disease caused by excess fat stored in the liver. Most people have no symptoms and it doesn’t cause them serious problems. However, in some cases, it can cause liver damage. The good news is that you can often prevent or even reverse fatty liver disease with lifestyle changes. In this article, we’ll be discussing the symptoms and treatments for fatty liver.
What is a fatty liver?
Fatty liver disease(or Steatosis) is a common disease caused by excess fat accumulation in the liver. A healthy liver contains a small amount of fat. Problems arise when fat reaches 5 to 10 percent of the liver’s weight. Our liver becomes inflamed (swelled), which damages its tissues. This stage is called steatohepatitis. Scar tissue forms where the liver is damaged. This process is called fibrosis. Large areas of scar tissue replace healthy tissue. At this point, you have cirrhosis. Because fatty liver disease often has no symptoms, your doctor may be the first to spot it. In other cases, higher levels of liver enzymes (elevated liver enzymes) that appear on blood tests may raise red flags.
A fatty liver can go through these stages:
- Excess fat can build up in the liver. Simple fatty liver is largely harmless if it doesn’t progress.
- Steatohepatitis. In addition to excess fat, the liver also has inflammation.
- Fibrosis. Continued inflammation of the liver now leads to scarring. However, the liver can still function normally.
- Cirrhosis of the liver. Liver scarring has become common, impairing the function of the liver. This is the most serious stage and is irreversible.
Symptoms of fatty liver
- Nausea, loss of appetite, or weight loss.
- The skin and whites of the eyes are yellow.
- Swelling of the abdomen and legs.
- Extreme tiredness or confusion.
- Abdominal pain or feeling of fullness in the upper right side of the abdomen.
Currently, there are no drugs approved for the treatment of fatty liver. More research is needed to develop and test drugs to treat the disease. Several viral infections can also damage the liver. To protect your liver health, your doctor may recommend hepatitis A and B vaccines. Depending on your situation, they may also recommend regular hepatitis C screening.
In many cases, lifestyle changes can help reverse most stages of fatty liver disease. For example, your doctor may recommend that you do the following:
- Limit or avoid alcohol.
- Take steps to lose weight.
- Change your current diet.
- Avoid medications and supplements that can damage the liver.
Lifestyle changes are the first-line treatment for fatty liver disease. Depending on your current condition and lifestyle, it is possible that it can help:
- Losing weight
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet that reduces excess calories, saturated fat, and trans fat
- Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week
- Reduce or abstain from drinking
Be sure to speak with your doctor before trying a new supplement or natural remedy for fatty liver. Some supplements or natural remedies may stress your liver or interact with other medications you are currently taking.