Aug 182012

Does your doctor say you have or may have Fatty Liver Disease? It is actually a very common health problem, and you don’t have to drink a lot of alcohol to get it – in fact, the majority of cases have nothing to do with drinking.

We’ll begin by explaining what Fatty Liver Disease is:

It’s a condition characterized by too high a percentage of fat in the liver. Normal fat accumulation in your liver should only be approximately 5-10%, so anything above that and you are liable to have or develop a fatty liver.

Too much fat in the liver is called steatosis. By itself, it normally doesn’t cause any problems. However, over time, the enlarged liver can start to get scarring, which is called cirrhosis and is very serious indeed, causing all sorts of problems, up to and including death.

Cirrhosis is commonly associated with alcoholism, but anyone can get it, even teetotalers who never touch a drop.

liver diseaseTypes of Fatty Liver Disease

  • ALD, or Alcoholic Liver Disease – Damage to the liver caused by excessive drinking, usually (but not always) over many years. It’s the first development that can turn into cirrhosis and liver failure.
  • NAFLD, or Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease – Fatty deposits of the liver not caused by alcohol. Patients are usually (but not always) overweight and sedentary, have a poor diet, high cholesterol, or have diabetes. Rapid weight loss can also cause it. The disease can progress to cirrhosis just like ALD. Note that individuals with healthy lifestyles can also get it, for unknown reasons.
  • NASH, or Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis – While having a fatty liver may not cause lasting harm, NASH is when the liver progresses from having too much fat to inflammation. This is much more serious and can lead to cirrhosis.

At this time, NAFLD is the most common type of liver disease in the United States. An estimated 20% of adults have some type of Fatty Liver Disease.


Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

Unfortunately, there normally aren’t any symptoms of this condition, especially in its milder form. This makes it a “silent” disease. People who have it might experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Weight
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea

In its more severe forms, these symptoms can develop:

  • Jaundice
  • Painful fluid accumulation in the abdomen, feet and legs
  • Emaciation
  • Itching
  • Mental confusion

Causes of Fatty Liver Disease

There are a variety of causes:

  • Viral Hepatitis
  • Obesity
  • Alcoholism
  • Medications
  • Inherited or autoimmune liver disease
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Malnutrition

Treatments for Fatty Liver Disease

The worst case scenario with this disease it that it could progress to the point where a liver transplant is your only option.

This may well be a classic case of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.

Why sit back and do nothing, hoping that your condition won’t progress?

If you have this condition, it may hearten you to know that although treatments are limited to basically a diet healthy for the liver and lifestyle changes, you can be proactive about your own care by following a recommended routine for those who suffer from it.

There is also a guide that will help you regain your health. See my personal review on it.

With a combination of diet and exercise, along with some changes to your lifestyle, you can live a long and healthy life and reverse Fatty Liver Disease.

 Posted by at 6:31 pm

  4 Responses to “What is Fatty Liver Disease?”

  1. Dear Greg,
    I just recently went to ER for discomfort in abdomen and pain on right side and back. Full work up was done such as EKG and full labs, where liver enzymens and function was normal. (PRAISE THE LORD) Ultrasound and CT scan was done with dye and it showed up on a spot on my liver, but doctor said I had a spot on my liver that has been there for over 1 1/2 ago when I had a previous ct scan for pain in pelvic. He said it had not grown or changed. I just went to GI doctor and he said for confirmation, I needed a MRI which I don’t have insurance for. He said I do have a fatty liver though. With all this said, I am obese and guarantee I am changing my diet today. I am 44 and other than hypythroid I am healthy. Do you know if you have a fatty liver, does it look like a spot on the liver? I need a very strict diet plan and will meet with a nutritionist very soon. Is their anything else I can do to improve my health?

    Please advise me

    • I have not heard about NAFLD showing up a as a single spot on the liver. Generally, fat in the liver shows up on an ultrasound as “echogenic” (dense) and/or enlarged. The actual fat in the liver will show up as white areas. Did you ask your doctor what the spot was diagnosed as 1.5 years ago? There could be some damage or scarring from a specific issue.

      It sounds like you’re on the right track with your improved diet plan. Have you seen your nutritionist yet?

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