Fatty liver is the accumulation of abnormal amounts of fat within the liver.
THE AMAZING LIVER
The liver is the second largest organ in the body. It filters & detoxifies blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it to the rest of the body. It metabolizes fats, carbohydrates, and proteins and makes proteins important for blood clotting.
WHAT IS FATTY LIVER
Fatty liver is the accumulation of abnormal amounts of fat within the liver. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat but if more than 5%-10% of the liver’s weight is fat, then it is called fatty liver.
Fatty liver is a reversible condition that can be resolved with lifestyle modifications. If ignored, it can cause permanent damage to the liver and ultimately lead to cirrhosis or liver failure.
TYPES OF FATTY LIVER
1. ALCOHOLIC FATTY ACID:
The commonest cause of fatty liver is alcoholism & heavy drinking which is known as the alcoholic fatty liver. It is the earliest stage of alcohol-related liver disease. Abstaining from alcohol can reverse the condition, but if one continues heavy drinking, it can lead to cirrhosis or permanent liver damage.
2. NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY ACID:
When the body creates too much fat or liver does not break down the fat fast enough. The excess fat is stored in liver cells, the cause is not related to alcohol. Eating a high-fat, high sugar diet & obesity predisposes to this condition.
3. ACUTE FATTY LIVER OF PREGNANCY:
It’s a rare but life-threatening complication of pregnancy in the 3rd trimester. It presents with nausea & vomiting, pain in the upper right abdomen, jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin & eyes), and general malaise.
RISK FACTORS FOR FATTY LIVER
- Insulin resistance/ Diabetes type II
- Increase Alcohol intake
- Misuse of paracetamol
- High cholesterol
- Rapid weight loss and poor eating habits.
SYMPTOMS OF FATTY LIVER:
Fatty liver can present with no symptoms at all, one may experience fatigue or vague abdominal discomfort. On examination, the liver may become slightly enlarged.
When excess fat causes inflammation of the liver and later liver failure, it presents with
- A poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Pain in abdomen
- Fatigue & weakness
- A fluid-filled abdomen
- Confusion/ tendency to bleed more easily
MANAGING FATTY LIVER:
Many cases of fatty liver don’t develop into liver disease. If we take steps to control cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity, fatty liver can be reversed.
- Limiting or avoiding alcoholic beverages, drinking in moderation: not more than 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks/day for women.
- Reduce or eliminate fatty foods and food rich in sugar from the diet.
- Choose healthier options such as fresh fruits, vegetables & whole grains. Replace red meat with lean animal proteins like fish and chicken.
- Limiting the number of calories each day to lose weight which helps in reversing fatty liver.
- Increase physical activity every day at least 30 minutes of brisk walking or 50 minutes of exercise in a week.
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