Fatty liver disease can be categorized into two type namely alcoholic liver disease or ALD and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease shortly called as NAFLD. Fat particles are present in the liver for all people, but when the total fat accumulated in the liver counts for more than 10% of your weight then you have fatty liver.
Causes Of Fatty Liver
- Millions of people around the word have alcoholic liver disease. These people are drinking alcohol constantly in large amounts. More than 95% of alcoholics develop fatty liver disease.
- You can also inherit fatty liver disease if your parent is alcoholic. You have more chance of becoming alcoholic than others.
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease can develop due to liver inflammation (hepatitis C infection), consuming excess of iron and fat rich diet.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) :
People who do not drink alcohol can also get fatty liver disease and that too without any symptoms. Fat gets accumulated in the liver gradually causing swelling of liver. In extreme cases it can cause liver failure or death. This is the most common type of liver disease in USA and in many other countries. Recently it has been reported that NAFLD can lead to heart disease and even children who are obese are at high risk of developing fatty liver.
The main cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver is the liver will not be able to break down fats leading to accumulation of fat inside it. In some cases this condition will not cause any complications. Steatohepatitis is a type of fatty liver disease in which the built-in fatty particles cause inflammation of the liver impairing its function. In severe cases liver inflammation can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver failure causing death.
For some people, prolonged use of certain medications and malnutrition can cause fatty liver. Hepatitis infection can also abrupt the normal functions of liver. Certain types of autoimmune disorders and rapid weight loss can affect the liver. Infectious bacteria in the intestine can cause NAFLD.
For most of the cases, fatty liver do not show any signs until the disease has advanced. Fat begins to pile up in the liver gradually causing symptoms like fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of weight, rapid weight loss and trouble in concentration.
For people who are abusing alcohol, fatty liver disease will not show any signs for many years. In some people it can cause pain in the right abdomen due to enlargement of liver. In severe cases of fatty liver, liver cirrhosis develops, causing serious symptoms like internal bleeding, fluid retention and jaundice.
Who Are At Risk ?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver can develop for people who are obese, who have high cholesterol levels, who have diabetes, who have undergone gastric surgery, who have hypothyroidism and who have underactive pituitary hormones. Alcoholic fatty liver disease develops for those who are drinking constantly taking excess of alcohol.
The doctor would complete his physical exam after collecting the medical history of the patient. He would request for blood test (to check high level of liver enzymes), imaging tests, and liver biopsy or tissue testing. He would insert a small needle through the skin into the live to collect a tissue sample which is then analyzed in the lab for presence of scarring or inflammation.
Treatment for fatty liver depends on the cause. If you are alcoholic and have developed fatty liver, you should quit drinking. Consult your doctor to join rehab program to stop alcohol. A person with fatty liver disease is at high risk of developing liver cirrhosis if he has not stopped drinking.
In case you are obese or a diabetic you need to take measures to reduce your weight and blood sugar level. For people who have developed fatty liver due to hepatitis infection medications and vaccinations are effective in preventing further damage to the liver. Surgery is the last option for fatty liver. The surgeon would remove the liver either partially or fully (depending on the intensity of damage) to replace it with healthy liver. This surgery carries high risk.
Fatty Liver Home Remedies
Obese people should take all possible efforts to shed pounds. Diet and exercise will help you in losing weight. Include a healthy diet rich in vegetables and plenty of fruits. Many fruits are antioxidants that help in reducing the liver disease to large extent. Stick on the exercise schedule for minimum 30 minutes a day.
Reduce the intake of high carbohydrate diet that gets easily digested like rice, potatoes, bread and juices that contain concentrated sugar. Quit drinking and follow your doctor’s instructions for taking any medication. Vitamin E has high antioxidants in it that helps in preventing the damage done to the liver. Research is still going on about the effect of vitamin E on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.