Fatty Liver Disease Causes and Symptoms

Posted On Dec 27, 2019

Department of

Manipal Hospitals

The result of the excess fat in liver cells wherein fatty tissue slowly builds up in the liver when a person’s diet surpasses the amount of fat his or her body can handle. A person is considered to have a fatty liver when more than 5% of their liver is made up by fat. Fatty liver is a reversible condition that can be resolved with changed behaviors. It often has no symptoms and generally does not cause permanent damage. The liver is the 2nd largest organ in the body and its function is to process what we consume and filter out any and all harmful substances in our blood. This process however, is interrupted when excess fat is in the liver. Generally, the liver self-repairs by rebuilding new liver cells when the old ones are damaged. When there’s continuous damage to the liver, permanent scarring can take place, leading to what is called cirrhosis.

There are two main types of fatty liver disease:

  • Alcoholic liver disease (ALD)
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) – This disease is primarily contracted from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Genes that are passed down hereditarily can also play a role in ALD. They also have an impact on the way your body breaks down the alcohol you drink. Other factors that may affect your chance of getting ALD are –

  • Hepatitis C
  • Having too much iron content in your body
  • Being overweight

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD – The causes of NAFLD are largely unknown. It generally tends to be hereditary and is more prone to the middle-aged, overweight or obese and tend to have high cholesterol and diabetes too. Other causes for NAFLD are:

  • Medications
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Autoimmune or inherited liver disease
  • Fast weight loss
  • Malnutrition

 Causes Of Fatty Liver

  • Obesity
  • Hyperlipidemia, or high levels of fats in the blood
  • Diabetes
  • Genetic inheritance
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Side effect of certain medications, including aspirin, steroids, tamoxifen, and tetracycline

Symptoms Of A Fatty Liver

  • You may experience fatigue
  • Vague abdominal discomfort might be experienced.
  • Your liver may become slightly enlarged,
  • The excess fat can cause liver inflammation.
  • You may have a poor appetite
  • You might incur some weight loss
  • Chances of abdominal pain
  • You might feel weak and confused
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding
  • Mental changes (encephalopathy)
  • Accumulation of fluid (ascites, edema)
  • Liver cancer

Treatment For Fatty Liver

There isn’t a medication or surgery to treat fatty liver. However, these are some of the options your doctor might recommend.

  • Limiting or avoiding alcoholic beverages
  • Managing your cholesterol
  • Losing weight
  • Controlling your blood sugar

Fatty liver disease can also be reduced by eliminating fatty foods and foods high in sugar from your diet. Consume healthier foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Replace red meats with lean animal proteins like chicken and fish.