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Fatty liver disease: Treatment, symptoms, advice & help

About fatty liver disease

Fatty liver disease is characterised by deposition of fat in the liver cells. Liver is a very important organ of the body, located in the right upper part of the abdomen and responsible for the metabolic needs of the body. The fatty liver disease has various presentations ranging from simple fatty liver, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis.

Fatty liver disease: Incidence, age and sex

Fatty liver disease is one of the common liver disorders encountered in individuals of developed countries. It is mainly a disease of adults and affects every 1 in 5 adults. There does not seem to be any apparent gender predilection.

Signs and symptoms of fatty liver disease: Diagnosis

In most of the cases, fatty liver disease does not present with any symptoms. However, some individuals may experience bloating sensation, nagging pain in the right abdomen or even fatigue. But it may progress to steatohepatitis or fibrosis or even cirrhosis of liver which may present with persistent fatigue, loss of weight and occasionally jaundice (yellowish discolouration of skin).

Fatty liver disease is usually an incidental finding in several tests including blood tests which may show deranged liver function test or imaging modalities like ultrasonography or CT scan which may show fat deposits in the liver.

Causes and prevention of fatty liver disease

The most common causes of fatty liver include alcohol, obesity and diabetes. The predisposing factors of fatty liver disease include increasing age, hyperlipidemia, prolonged fasting or rapid weight loss, and high blood pressure.

Alcohol intake is also a very important preventable cause of fatty liver. Avoidance of drugs like corticosteroids can also help in preventing fatty liver disease. Other preventive measures include maintaining optimal weight and managing diabetes adequately.

Fatty liver disease: Complications

Fatty liver disease in most cases, does not lead to any serious complications. However, occasionally it may progress to cirrhosis which is a serious condition and may lead to potentially life-threatening condition like liver failure. Moreover, fatty liver disease is commonly associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Fatty liver disease: Treatment

The treatment of fatty liver disease involves the treatment of the underlying causes. Therefore weight management, low fat diet and adequate physical exercise may help in managing fatty liver disease in obese individuals. It is also important to take adequate medications for managing the lipids levels in body. Morbidly obese individuals may consider ‘obesity surgery’ to shed off the excess weight. Lifestyle modifications including cessation of smoking and alcohol along with balanced diet and regular physical exercise may help in managing fatty liver disease in most of the individuals. Moreover it is impertinent to manage diabetes well and maintain optimal levels of sugar in blood. However, the prognosis of fatty liver disease is quite good since it does not progress to later stages like fibrosis and cirrhosis.