Identifying Fatty Liver Symptoms: A Comprehensive Guide

August 16, 2023

Identifying Fatty Liver Symptoms

The  liver is the largest internal organ of the human body, located on the upper-right side of the abdomen. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove toxins.  Blood from the  digestive system filters through the liver before travelling anywhere else in the body.

Fatty liver disease is the build-up of excess fat in the liver cells, and is a common liver complaint. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat, but if fat accounts for more than 5 percent of the liver’s weight, then it can cause serious complications.

The extra fats start to damage the tissues of the liver. It creates inflammation and produces pain. If fatty liver symptoms are identified earlier, they can be reversed.

So we must need to identify fatty liver symptoms. And we’re here to help!

In this blog, you will learn to identify all the fatty liver symptoms and possible cures! So keep reading!


What are the types of Fatty Liver Disease?

There are two main types:

  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease, also called alcoholic steatohepatitis

What is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) describes a range of conditions caused by too much fat stored in the liver in people who drink no alcohol.

In terms of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), when fat starts to build up in the liver, the whole process is divided into four stages to identify the complexity.

Each stage has its own difficulty and the last stage is quite irreversible. So it's important to identify the stage before it gets too late.

Here we explained all four stages in brief-

Stage One: Steatosis

This is a simple fatty liver and does not impose any symptoms. Usually, the fat build-up reduces over time and does not develop into the next stage.

Only about 20% of the people go to the next stage.

Stage Two: Steatohepatitis

Most people will feel inflammation in their liver in this stage. It’s basically when the liver tries to repair its damaged tissues, it produces a burning sensation.

When more tissues are damaged, inflamed tissues creates scar, and that develops in the next stage.

Stage Three: Fibrosis

This occurs when there is persistent scar tissue in the liver and in the blood vessels around the liver. The liver can still function quite well at this stage, and removing or treating the cause of the inflammation may prevent further progression or even reverse some of the damage. However, if over time, the scar tissue starts to replace a lot of the normal liver tissue, the function of the liver is affected. This can lead to cirrhosis.

Stage Four: Cirrhosis

This is the final stage and the liver stops functioning here. Most of the symptoms appear in this stage such as yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes and a dull ache in the lower right side of the ribs. It becomes difficult to remove scar tissue anymore.  There is no current treatment for cirrhosis, but medications may help reduce the problems.

All stages of NAFLD are associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

What is alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is due to heavy alcohol use. Your liver breaks down most of the alcohol you drink, so it can be removed from your body. But the process of breaking it down can generate harmful substances. These substances can damage liver cells, promote inflammation, and weaken your body's natural defenses. The next stages are alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.

What Are the Causes of Fatty Liver Diseases?

Learning the causes of fatty liver diseases may also help prevent the condition! So here are the common causes of a fat-accumulated liver-

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Type-2 diabetes or insulin resistance
  • High cholesterol or triglyceride levels or high blood pressure
  • Taking steroids and other certain medicines for a long time.
  • Hypothyroidism, hypopituitarism, or polycystic ovary syndrome

What Are the Common Fatty Liver Symptoms?  

Fatty liver symptoms are usually not visible until the final stage of cirrhosis. However, there are some symptoms that may help identify excess fat accumulation in the liver.

Here are the common symptoms :

  • Abdominal pain. The pain will start from the upper right side of the abdomen and slowly spread.
  • Feeling full or lose appetite.
  • The skin and whites of the eyes will turn yellowish like jaundice.
  • Broad blood vessels under skin surface.
  • Extreme tiredness and weakness.
  • Liver will become larger in size. It’s often identified in medical checkups.

How Can You Treat Fatty Liver Diseases?

Fatty liver diseases can be reversed if it’s identified at the early stages. You need to keep a healthy diet, exercise more and say no to alcohol to keep your liver healthy.

For a healthy diet, you should take healthy fats and plant-based foods. Eat a good amount of vegetables everyday, because greens help to prevent fat buildup. Also add beans, soy, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, etc. to your diet to get omega- 3 fatty acids.

You also need to stop eating fried foods, added sugar or salt-enriched foods, and red meat. Also, quit alcohol intake and smoking instantly.

Furthermore, do regular exercise. If you’re overweight, you need to lose weight to save your liver.

Foods that can lessen fatty liver symptoms,

Turmeric:  Researchers have shown that curcumin, a turmeric derivative, reduces fatty liver disease.

Oxidative Stress has been considered a key causing factor of liver damage induced by a variety of agents, including alcohol, drugs, viral infections, environmental pollutants and dietary components. Curcumin is one of the most commonly used indigenous molecules endowed by various shielding functionalities that protect the liver. The scientific studies showed that curcumin exerts remarkable protective and therapeutic effects of oxidative associated liver diseases through various cellular and molecular mechanisms.

Conclusion

Fatty liver symptoms are not usually visible at the early stages. However, there are some symptoms that we discussed in the blog.

Keep a good diet and exercise regularly to have a healthy liver and thereby, a healthy life!  

Some FAQs

Is Fatty Liver a Serious Problem?

Answer: Yes, but only when the problem gets out of hand. There are four stages of fatty liver and the last stage is irreversible. It may cause harm to overall health and create more problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney failure.

Which Food Should You Avoid If You Have Fatty Liver?

Answer: If you have fatty liver symptoms you must avoid alcohol at any cost. Moreover, you should avoid sweets or foods with added sugar. Furthermore, fried foods, extra added salts, white flour, red meat, etc. should be out of your diet.

Read Next: What happens if your liver isn't working properly?

Reference:

Fatty Liver Disease: Risk Factors, Symptoms, Types & Prevention (clevelandclinic.org)

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

The four stages of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) (liverhealthuk.com)


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