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Out of the long list covering more than 100 different forms of liver disease, fatty liver disease is one of the most common diseases that are spreading like an epidemic these days. Most of you might associate fatty liver disease with heavy intake of alcohol, which is true. But there are other ways you can acquire the disease. In this article Dr Jayshri Shah, Consultant Hepatologist, Gastroenterologist & Therapeutic Endoscopist at Ansh Liver Clinic explains all important aspects about the disease you should be aware about.
What is fatty liver disease?
Fatty liver simply means accumulation of fat in the liver. Normal, healthy liver has no fat. It is unclear where the fat comes from. It may be acquired from other parts of the body or the liver may be absorbing an increased amount of fat from the intestine. It could also be possible to explain fat accumulation, if the liver loses its ability to change fat into a form that can be eliminated.
Types of fatty liver disease
Fatty liver disease can be divided into 2 types - alcohol related and non-alcohol related.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease: It is caused due to heavy alcohol drinking. Alcohol, in general, is bad for the liver because it diverts the liver from its major function of metabolising carbohydrates and providing glucose throughout the body. It destroys the liver cells resulting in fat deposits, causing alcoholic fatty liver disease. The fat in the liver can progressively cause inflammation and scarring of the liver, resulting in cirrhosis
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: There are 3 stages of non alcohol related fatty liver disease
Causes of fatty liver disease
Alcoholic fatty liver disease: It is caused by significant consumption of alcohol. Usually, consumption of greater than 21 units of alcohol/week in men and 14 units of alcohol/week in women, over a two year period is found to cause fatty liver. (One unit is equivalent to 10 ml of pure alcohol)
Non alcohol fatty liver disease: It is seen in patients who suffer with the following conditions in the absence of significant alcohol consumption:
Here are more causes and risk factors of liver disease
Symptoms of fatty liver disease
Fatty liver disease is a silent medical condition, which means there are usually no symptoms. In such cases, the disease is identified from routine health check up indicating fatty liver with ultrasound, CT scan or MRI of the abdomen. Patients should visit the doctor for further investigations even if they do not have any symptoms.
In case you experience the following symptoms, visit the doctor.
As the disease progresses towards the advanced stages it can cause cirrhosis, where the following symptoms may be experienced:
Diagnosis of fatty liver disease:
Read more diagnostic tests of liver disease
Treatment and prevention of fatty liver disease:
Treatment options include medication along with lifestyle and dietary changes.
Medication: Mostly for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease the treatment is given to control risk factors causing fatty liver. Medicines to control of diabetes, cholesterol , hypertension and hypothyroidism is required. In some cases, antioxidant medication such as Vitamin E can be prescribed.
Here are some expert tips to prevent the disease
Here are additional prevention tips for liver disease
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