Liver is a vital organ of the digestive system and plays an important role in metabolism and various functions of the body. But, when the liver does not function effectively, it is regarded as liver disease. Diseases of the liver can be inherited (genetic) or caused by a number of factors such as viruses and excessive alcohol use. Various signs and symptoms depict the condition of liver disease, including blood sugar problems, metabolism problems, and immune disorders.
Basically, these days fatty liver is one of the most common causes of liver disease. Fatty liver is a reversible condition wherein large vacuoles of triglyceride fat accumulate in liver cells through the process of steatosis (abnormal retention of lipids within a cell). Despite various causes like malnutrition, bacterial overgrowth, use of drugs and toxins, excessive alcohol intake, and obesity, fatty liver is considered as a single disease that occurs worldwide. There are various symptoms that lead to fatty liver. Generally, fatty liver disease produces no symptoms when it’s mild. But, people may experience symptoms like tiredness, pain and discomfort in the liver. These pains are caused by a growing amount of fat inside the liver.
It has been reported that people may develop alcoholic or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as a part of liver disease. These are described in detail below:
Alcoholic liver disease:
An estimated 15 million people in the United States abuse or overuse alcohol and about 90% to 100% out of them develop fatty livers. Basically, alcoholic fatty liver is the earliest stage of alcohol-related liver disease because the liver is almost damaged by heavy drinking and unable to break down fats. Moreover, heredity also plays a role in alcoholic liver disease. Various other factors that may influence the chances of developing alcoholic fatty liver disease include hepatitis C (which leads to liver inflammation), overload of iron, and diet.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD):
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. This liver disease is common among people, but causes no signs and symptoms and no complications. Basically, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is now the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S. Whereas, recent studies have also suggested that NAFLD increases the risk of heart disease in overweight children. For people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the fat that accumulates can cause inflammation and scarring in the liver and leads to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. This problem may progress to the liver failure of the person.
Causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD):
This condition happens when your liver has trouble breaking down fats, which causes fat build up in your liver tissue. The causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are not clear, but certain factors tend to increase the risk. These include people who are middle-aged and overweight or obese and people having high cholesterol level and diabetes or pre-diabetes (insulin resistance).
Diagnosing fatty liver disease:
Diagnosing fatty liver disease is not a complicated task. You doctor or medical expert may diagnose your problem and then recommend the proper treatment and medications. But, diagnosing the problem starts with asking the questions about your symptoms. Your doctor may also ask you about your medical history, lifestyle and the amount of alcohol you drink. But, sometimes the diagnosis of fatty liver disease is difficult because you may not have any symptoms. To diagnose the exact condition or problem, doctor may perform several tests, including:
- Blood tests- Doctor will take blood samples to examine the elevations in the normal liver enzymes.
- Ultrasound- This test may confirm the disease because in an ultrasound the fat on the liver shows up as a white area on the image.
- Liver biopsy- Finally, the only way to confirm the diagnosis of fatty liver disease is with a liver biopsy. This test is performed by the expert doctor by inserting a needle into the liver to remove a tiny piece of liver. The piece of liver is then examined under a microscope for signs of fat, inflammation, and damaged liver cells.
Treating fatty liver disease:
Right now, there are no specific treatments for the disease. However, doctors work on treating the risk factors that contribute to liver disease such as controlling blood sugar level, treating alcoholism with a detox plan, or a weight loss plan.
Fatty liver disease may be treated through various changes in lifestyle and diet. Along with your doctor’s help, you can take various steps to control fatty liver disease. These include:
- Lose weight- This remedy is for the persons, who are overweight or obese. People can control or lower their risk of fatty liver disease by reducing the number of calories they consume every day.
- Eat healthy- Go for a diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The presence of antioxidants and vitamins help in lowering the risk of fatty liver disease.
- Exercise and be active- Try to hit the gym and spend at least 30 minutes doing a specific exercise.
- Control your diabetes- Controlling the blood sugar level is a must to lower the risk of fatty liver disease. Always try to follow the doctor’s instructions carefully and take your medications as directed.
- Lower your cholesterol- You can lower down the cholesterol level by having a healthy plant based diet, exercise and medication.
- Protect your liver- Lastly try to avoid things that put extra stress on your liver. For example, don’t drink alcohol and try to eat healthy foods.Also Read: 8 Genius Ways To Use Veggies for Weight Loss and Boosting Health
Medications to cure fatty liver disease:
Medications to treat fatty liver disease are still under research. Various researchers have found that some natural compounds could be helpful in treating the disease, like:
- Vitamin E- Vitamin E is a rich source of antioxidants and helps people in protecting their liver by reducing or neutralizing the damage caused by inflammation. Tofu, spinach, avocados, broccoli and fish are some foods that contain Vitamin E.
- Coffee- In some studies, it has been proven that people with fatty liver disease who reported drinking coffee had less liver damage than those who drink little or no coffee.
To lead a healthy and happy life, have a good diet and exercise regularly. Also, limit your consumption of alcohol, sugar-rich foods and trans fat products.
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Also Read: 8 Common habits that make you consume more calories
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