LIVER is the largest organ in the body. It helps in digestion, storing energy and removal of toxic products. Fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat gets deposited in liver leading to liver damage and liver failure.
1. ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE -Alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs as a result of heavy consumption of alcohol leading to excess deposition of fats in liver. It is the earliest stage of alcohol-related liver disease
2. NON ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE (NAFLD) -NAFLD is a type of fatty liver disease that is not related to heavy alcohol use. There is deposition of fat in liver but does not get bad to cause liver damage or complications.
3. ACUTE FATTY LIVER OF PREGNANCY -Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy (AFLP) is a rare disease affecting women in the third trimester of pregnancy where there is deposition of fats in liver.
1. Side effects of medicines
2. Have certain infections like Hepatitis C
3. Some genetic conditions also lead to fatty liver disease.
Males consuming > 15 drinks of alcohol / week and females consuming > 8 drinks of alcohol / week are at high risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Research says, males consuming > 40-80 gm of alcohol /day, females consuming > 20-40 gm of alcohol / day and if the drinking pattern is continued for > 10-12 years leads to liver damage.
The other 3 risk factors for fatty liver disease are, person having any family history, females having PCOS – POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME and person suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.
Fatty liver can progress through four stages:
1. Simple fatty liver- In this stage excess fat starts accumulating in the liver. If not timely treated the condition can worsen and patient develops steatohepatitis.
2. Steatohepatitis- Here in this stage in addition to excess fat deposition, inflammation develops in liver. If not taken seriously, it may lead to fibrosis.
3. Fibrosis- Persistent inflammation in the liver causes scarring.
4. Cirrhosis- This is the most severe and irreversible stage. Scarring of liver leads to impairment of it’s ability to function.
People with fatty liver disease often have few or no symptoms are as follows,
1. Extreme tiredness
2. Abdominal pain or discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen.
Incase of advanced stage of fatty liver disease:
1. Loss of appetite or weight loss.
3. Yellowish tinge in eyes like jaundice.
4. Dark coloration of urine.
5. Severe abdominal pain.
6. Pain in stomach and swollen feeling due to water retention.
It is not easy to find fatty liver disease as there are often no symptoms. Doctors may start investigating starting with medical history, physical examination and may ask to get blood tests done like Liver function test (SGOT, SGPT,ETC) to check liver enzymes. At times doctor may ask to get abdominal sonography done .
In some cases the patients may be asked to do some important tests like CT SCAN, FIBRO SCAN and BIOPSY to understand the severity of the disease.
There are no medicines currently to treat fatty liver disease, studies are being carried out.
1. Avoiding alcohol
2. Losing weight, which helps in reducing fat deposition in liver
3. Low calorie, low fat diet to be included in daily diet.
4. Making some lifestyle changes
5. Avoiding medicines which affect the liver.
6. Research says that Vitamin E supplements help in reversing the disease to some extent but any medicines over the counter should not be taken without doctor’s consultation.
Treatment should be taken strictly under the guidance of the treating doctor.
Liver has an amazing ability to repair itself.
Taking precautionary steps like avoiding alcohol, losing weight, having a proper diet, doing physical activities like yoga, meditation, walking, it’s possible to reduce fatty liver disease.
Liver is an important organ of our body, without which life is not possible.
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