What Is Fatty Liver Disease?

The question of what is fatty liver disease is just what the question suggests. Fatty liver is a build up of excess fat in the liver cells. The liver naturally contains some fat, but it should not carry more than 10% of its weight in fat. NASH or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is the name for this inflammatory condition in patients who drink little or no alcohol. If it goes untreated, it can lead to possible liver damage. Inflammation of the liver or steatohepatitis can harden over time and develop into cirrhosis of the liver or liver disease.

Fatty liver causes are alcohol abuse, rapid weight loss, and a diet that is high in fat. Obesity is the number one factor for developing fatty liver. Eating a high caloric diet slows down the bodies ability to process and break down the fats normally. This causes fat to accumulate. Most patients who are diagnosed with fatty liver also have conditions of diabetes, high triglycerides, or obesity. It is possible to develop fatty liver even if these conditions or cause are not present. Other factors that can lead to NASH include medications like tamoxifen, synthetic estrogens, glucocorticoids, and bypass surgeries that shorten the length of the intestine.

Fatty liver symptoms are not seen right away. It can cause damage to the liver for a decade or more without showing any physical symptoms of the disease. If it goes undiagnosed it can cause symptoms of weight loss, weakness, extreme fatigue, and abdominal discomfort. These symptoms are usually not found until NASH begins to affect the function of the liver. Once cirrhosis of the liver begins and scarring is present, symptoms begin to develop. Jaundice, fluid buildup in the legs or abdomen, easy bruising, blood in the stool, nosebleeds, and extreme muscle or weight loss are visitble signs.

NASH is generally found in medical tests being performed to look for other conditions. Blood tests can show unusual results and will be followed by an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI for the physician to check for a swollen liver. The only sure way to diagnosis fatty liver is with a liver biopsy. A needle is used to remove a small piece of the liver to be examined under a microscope.

Fatty liver treatment options include avoiding alcohol, loosing weight at a healthy rate, increased physical activity, and diet. These options are also the best way to prevent fatty liver from becoming an issue. Foods like white bread, white rice, and concentrated sugar (like those found in breakfast cereals) should be avoided. A diet that is high in fiber, low in calories, and low in saturated fat is recommended. As with any healthy diet, fruits, vegetables, and beans are great. Even though alcohol consumption is not recommended, antioxidants in wine can be helpful. It is recommended to drink one glass a day. There are currently no medicinal treatments for fatty liver. Understanding the answer to the question what is fatty liver disease and living a healthy lifestyle is the best prevention option available.

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