Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver

Posted Thursday, October 25, 2018

Did You Know? Liver Disease is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. among 45-54 year olds

Fatty Liver Disease is More Common in Type 2 Diabetes Patients  

Those with Fatty Liver are at a Higher Risk for Liver Cancer, Diabetes and Heart Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease encompasses a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. The main characteristic, as the name implies, is too much fat stored in the liver. Please use this guide as a resource for knowledge and understanding of fatty liver causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.  

01│Causes

It is not completely understood why some people accumulate fat in the liver while others do not. There appears to be a connection between the disease and insulin resistance. For some, excess fat acts as a toxin to the liver, resulting in liver inflammation and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can result in a buildup of scar tissue in the liver. Fatty liver is linked to the following:

  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • High levels of fat, especially triglycerides, in the blood 

02│Symptoms

Patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may not experience any symptoms. Some may experience fatigue or pain in the upper right abdomen.  

Possible signs or symptoms of NASH and cirrhosis (advanced scarring) include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface
  • Enlarged breasts in men
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Red palms
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)

03│Diagnosis & Treatment

Because fatty liver may cause no symptoms, it is usually not recognized unless blood tests are done for other reasons and point to a liver problem. This may include an ultrasound or liver enzyme test. Once your physician suspects fatty liver, additional blood tests and imaging may be ordered to determine the severity of the disease. If these tests are inconclusive, a liver biopsy may be performed. The tissue sample is examined for signs of inflammation and scarring.  

Treatment includes a weight loss regimen including a healthy diet and exercise. A loss of 5-10% of your body weight can greatly improve fatty liver disease. Your healthcare provider may also recommend vaccinations against Hepatitis A and B.   

For more information on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, please visit: https://liverfoundation.org/for-patients/about-the-liver/diseases-of-the-liver/non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/ 

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References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354573

https://www.healthline.com/health/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease#diagnosis

 

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