5 Things You Need to Know About Liver Disease
Fatty liver is the most prevalent form of liver disease in the US, and it is unfortunately on the rise. As many as 1 in 4 people have fatty liver disease. Many of these people will experience declining health as a result.
Let’s discuss what fatty liver disease is, how it develops and a few things you can do to stop it.
What is fatty liver disease?
Fatty liver disease, also known as hepatic steatosis, is a condition in which excess fat builds up in the liver. This fat accumulation can impair liver function and lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver. As the fat replaces healthy liver tissue, the liver stops working well.
The more severe form of NAFLD is nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which causes the liver to swell and become damaged, leading to fibrosis or cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is also becoming the number one reason for liver transplantation in the US, but there’s good news—NASH is preventable.
Heavy alcohol use also causes fat to build up in the liver. Alcoholic fatty liver disease is on the rise and is also preventable.
1. Types of fatty liver disease
There are two main types of fatty liver disease:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): This is the most common type of fatty liver disease and is not caused by alcohol consumption. NAFLD is often associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD): This type of fatty liver disease is caused by excessive alcohol consumption. AFLD can progress to more serious conditions such as cirrhosis and liver failure.
2. Symptoms of fatty liver disease
Fatty liver disease often goes unnoticed because it typically does not cause any symptoms in its early stages. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms may develop, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling of the abdomen (ascites)
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
3. Risk factors for fatty liver disease
Several factors increase the risk of developing fatty liver disease, including:
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Alcohol consumption
- Certain medications
- Genetic factors
4. Diagnosis of fatty liver disease
Fatty liver disease is typically diagnosed with a blood test that measures liver enzymes. An imaging test, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, may also be used to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of liver damage.
There is no specific medication for fatty liver disease. However, treatment focuses on managing risk factors and making lifestyle changes to prevent the disease from progressing to more serious complications. Lifestyle changes that may help improve fatty liver disease include:
- Weight loss
- Diet changes
- Alcohol cessation
- Diabetes management
5. Prevention of fatty liver disease
The best way to prevent fatty liver disease is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes:
- Eating a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and added sugar
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly
- Limiting alcohol consumption
The prognosis for fatty liver disease depends on the severity of the disease and the individual's response to treatment. With lifestyle changes, many people with fatty liver disease can improve their liver function and prevent the disease from progressing to more serious complications.
In addition to the lifestyle changes mentioned above, there are a few other things you can do to reduce your risk of developing fatty liver disease:
- Get regular checkups with your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your risk of fatty liver disease.
- Follow your doctor's treatment plan for fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver disease is a common condition that can have serious complications if left untreated. However, with lifestyle changes and proper treatment, many people with fatty liver disease can improve their liver function and prevent the disease from progressing.
- Understand the two main types of fatty liver disease: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD).
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of fatty liver disease, including fatigue, weight loss, abdominal pain, and jaundice.
- Identify the risk factors that increase your susceptibility to fatty liver disease, such as obesity, insulin resistance, and high cholesterol.
- Learn about the diagnosis and treatment options for fatty liver disease, emphasizing lifestyle changes and disease management.
- Discover preventive measures you can implement to lower your risk of developing fatty liver disease.
By gaining a comprehensive understanding of fatty liver disease, you can make informed decisions about your health and well-being.
Remember this blog provides general information and should not replace professional medical advice. If you have any of the above symptoms you must see a doctor straight away, or please visit or call the Nearest Emergency Room for a immediate medical help.
We have ER locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area that are open and here to help you 24/7 If you or your family have a medical emergency.
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