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Fatty liver disease: causes and non-alcoholic symptoms that may go unnoticed

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

Fatty liver is also known as hepatic steatosis. A condition when fat builds up in the liver. Too much building of fat may turn into Fatty liver disease.

Fatty liver disease is also referred to as Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) or Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH).

Non alcoholic fatty liver disease is seen in patients who drink little or no alcohol. The commonest form of Non alcoholic fatty liver disease is termed fatty liver.

This is the reason it does not usually show symptoms.

“If you have NASH, you may have symptoms. But it could take years for them to show up,” explains health body University Hospitals.

But main issue arises when we are unable to recognize its symptoms and it may look like any other health problem.

Commonly there are no symptoms of NASH. However, it may include:

  • Severe tiredness (fatigue)
  • Pain in the right upper belly (abdomen)
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Spider-like blood vessels on the skin
  • Long-lasting itching.

Diagnosis

Since most people do not experience symptoms, NAFLD is often diagnosed after a blood test, says the NHS.

But, as the health body explains, blood tests do not always pick up NAFLD.

“The condition may also be spotted during an ultrasound scan of your tummy,” it says.

This is a type of scan where sound waves are used to create an image of the inside of your body.

What causes NAFLD?

Experts don’t know exactly why some people accumulate fat in the liver while others do not.

Similarly, there is limited understanding of why some fatty livers develop inflammation that progresses to liver damage.

However, the Mayo Clinic cites a number of chronic disease markers that are linked to the condition.

These include:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Insulin resistance, in which your cells don’t take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycaemia), indicating prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • High levels of fats, particularly triglycerides, in the blood.

“These combined health problems appear to promote the deposit of fat in the liver,” explains the Mayo Clinic.

“For some people, this excess fat acts as a toxin to liver cells, causing liver inflammation and NASH, which may lead to a buildup of scar tissue in the liver.”

Treatment?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any specific treatments yet for NAFLD.

“Your doctor will encourage you to make changes to your lifestyle to prevent your condition getting worse,” explains Bupa.

Losing any excess weight is essential to staving off further complications.

Bupa explains: “This can reverse some of the build-up of fat and even some of the fibrosis in your liver.”

Other key lifestyle changes include:

  • Exercise more. This will help you to lose any excess weight you may have. It may also help to reduce damage to your liver even if you don’t successfully lose any weight.
  • If you drink alcohol, it’s important to stay within the national recommended limits for alcohol consumption.

Diabetics and those with other associated conditions like high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure etc. need to be treated individually for the same.

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