Fatty liver disease, also called hepatic steatosis, is a condition where fat builds up in your liver excessively. It’s normal for us to have some fat in our liver, but when there’s too much, it can lead to serious health consequences.
Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body, and it processes everything you consume. If you have too much fat in your liver, there are disruptions in its function.
Fatty liver is defined as a condition when more than 5 to 10 percent of the weight of your liver is made up of fat.
The following are some important facts to know about fatty liver disease.
The Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of fatty liver disease can seem like many other common conditions, such as the symptoms of gallbladder attack.
The symptoms are the result of inflammation caused by the build-up of fat, and they can include abdominal pain, as well as weakness and even fatigue and confusion. You may have appetite loss and weight loss as well.
If you’ve gone past the point of fatty liver and are entering a phase of cirrhosis and liver failure, symptoms may include jaundice of the skin and yellow eyes, confusion, and easily bleeding. If fatty liver disease progresses to cirrhosis, it can mean complications such as an accumulation of fluid and gastrointestinal bleeding.
What Causes Fatty Liver?
There are two ways to distinguish fatty liver disease. In the first scenario, it’s caused by excessive alcohol consumption, but there’s also nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
These two conditions are separate from one another, and actually in most cases when fatty liver is due to alcohol consumption, it’s called alcoholic liver disease. This requires different treatment than fatty liver disease that’s not related to alcohol.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is believed to be primarily caused by obesity. Other possible risk factors may include high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as diabetes and high blood fats.
Metabolic syndrome can also be a risk factor.
With that being said, not all obese people will develop fatty liver, and if you have fatty liver, you aren’t necessarily obese. Obesity is just one risk factor, while others can also include genetics.
While in the past the concept of fatty liver was thought to be primarily related to people who were older, it’s one of the most common forms of chronic liver disease in children, due in large part to a rise in childhood obesity.
According to information published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, fatty liver disease impacts around 10 to 20 percent of the child population, and of those it’s estimated that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent are obese.
Finally, how is fatty liver treated? It depends on the causes, but many of the guidelines for treating fatty liver are based on mitigating contributing and risk factors. This can include engaging in a weight loss plan, controlling blood sugar, and managing how much sugar and saturated fats are consumed. There aren’t medicines or surgeries that can treat it, and instead, it’s usually about lifestyle changes.