Fatty liver disease is a condition that affects many people. It is caused by the excess storage of fat in the liver. Often, the symptoms don’t show up and people don’t face problems. But for some, if undetected and untreated, it could lead to liver damage. This condition doesn’t affect just a few people and is in no way a rare disease. It is estimated that fatty liver will soon affect 25% – 30% of the world’s population. This calls for some serious introspection in the way people lead their life.
Some people think that the condition is nothing to worry about and may neglect the problem until it worsens. Instead of the condition worsening, taking adequate measures can go a long way. What’s good is that once it is detected, a few lifestyle changes can reduce or in some cases even reverse the effects. In order to understand this problem in-depth, we need to understand the basics of everything that our liver does for us and why some people face this problem.
The liver and its function
Our liver is like a factory. It is constantly working, without any break to ensure we stay healthy. It controls everything- from production and processing to storage and elimination. It conducts more than 500 tasks and it can only continue to function well is it is taken care of. Undoubtedly, the liver is a vital organ in our body which needs to be cared for. So what exactly is its function?
- Helps with digestion
- Makes proteins for the body
- Stocks iron
- Transforms nutrients into energy
- Creates substances that help with blood clot
- Helps resist infections by making immune factors and removing bacteria and toxins from the blood
Fatty liver – what is it?
Fatty liver is the build-up of fat around the liver. It is normal to have a certain amount of fat around the liver but, when the fat accounts for 5-10% of the total liver weight, that is where the problem begins. Also, known as hepatic steatosis, it can cause liver inflammation, and too much damage or severe scarring can cause liver damage.
When fatty liver develops in someone who consumes a lot of alcohol, it is known as alcoholic fatty liver disease. And those who do not drink and develop this condition, it’s known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Fatty liver: Implications
For many, fatty liver does not pose a risk but for some, it does. There are basically 3 stages that the condition progresses to:
- Steatohepatitis: It occurs when the liver becomes inflamed and damages the tissue.
- Fibrosis: Scar tissues are formed where the liver is damaged.
- Cirrhosis of the liver: This happens when excessive scar tissue replaces healthy tissues.
Detection of fatty liver in the early stages can help one get through the problem and lead a better life.
Who does fatty liver affect?
People with the following conditions are more prone to develop this problem:
- Postmenopausal women
- Obese people with a high level of fat in the belly
- People with high BP, diabetes or high cholesterol
- Individuals who encounter obstructive sleep apnea
Even though these are common targets, others can also be victims of fatty liver. But, people with the above mentioned problems have a higher chance of having it.
Possible symptoms of fatty liver disease
Truth be told, there are no specific symptoms, but people who have fatty liver have had symptoms depending on the stage of the illness:
- Abdominal pain
- No desire for food
- Losing weight
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (Jaundice)
- Feeling of tiredness
- Feeling weak
- Skin irritation
- Swollen legs
- Bleeding from the nose
How does fatty liver get treated?
If you think medications can do wonders then think again! There is no specific medication and everything depends on the lifestyle you lead. In order to reverse the symptoms or at least bring it under control, you need to make some lifestyle changes.
- Cut down on the consumption of alcohol or avoid it altogether
- Exercise, stay fit and reduce excess weight
- Take your prescribed medications on time to control diabetes, cholesterol and triglyceride levels
So, do you think you can make these changes? As difficult as it may seem, it is only good for you, so give it a shot and experience the positive effects yourself.
Fatty liver- Can it be prevented?
The answer to whether this disease can be prevented or not is YES! It’s true that most people won’t know that they have the problem unless it shows up in some other test that you may have to undertake. But, you can reduce your chances of having this problem by simply maintaining a healthy weight, exercising often and reducing the intake of alcohol.
Fatty liver – Can home remedies help?
The truh is, your diet plays a vital role but knowing what is good and what is not, should be thoroughly researched. You’ll find plenty articles online telling you about the magical benefits of certain food items or ingredients. Before you try it out, it would be wise to consult with your doctor. After all, we have just one liver and ensuring that it is well taken care of is in our hands. So, do not try to experiment with anything without consulting your physician.
What should one do if detected with fatty liver?
Firstly, do not panic. Being detected with any form of the disease can bring with it a serious amount of stress. You should know that the control switch to this problem is in your hands. So whatever the fear is in your mind, throw it out of the window because stressing will only make matters worse. Yes, it is true that lifestyle changes can impact our lives, but it is necessary. Initially, these changes will seem odd and distressing, but eventually, as your health improves, you will get accustomed to a much healthier life. Keep your mind busy by constantly being engaged in things that make you happy, follow your doctor’s instructions, and know that if you do everything you’re asked to do, you can reverse the effects of fatty liver and be healthy once again.