Fatty liver is a condition where fat begins to accumulate in unusually large amounts in the liver cells. This seems to have developed into a common form of liver problem, especially among those who abuse alcohol. However, alcohol does not seem to be the only causative factor behind this condition; unhealthy eating and lifestyle patterns, certain disease conditions, and genetics too do seem to play a role in bringing about this liver problem.
Fatty liver disease can be further categorized into – a) alcoholic fatty liver disease, and b) nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Alcoholic fatty liver – As the name suggests, excessive alcohol consumption eventually can cause fatty liver condition. Even a brief period of heavy drinking can bring about this liver disease. A heavy coating of fat on the liver will lower down its functions drastically, which is mainly to cleanse the bloodstream by removing toxins, microorganisms and other unwanted materials from it. In addition to this, the liver also aids in processing food consumed and converting it into nutrients that the body can utilize.
When this liver condition becomes severe, the person will begin to notice severe abdominal discomfort or pain, nausea and vomiting, a sense of weakness, and getting easily tired. These may sometimes be accompanied by a diminished thinking process.
It is usually upon ultrasound examination, that the condition gets detected; but for a more complete diagnosis, a liver biopsy will need to be carried out.
The only manner in which the sufferer can get completely cured of this condition is to abstain from drinking totally.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver – Though alcoholic liver disease is a well known condition, nonalcoholic fatty liver condition appears to be far more common than the above. In this condition, the accumulation of fat is not caused by drinking alcohol. It is usually due to other body disorders like diabetes. Several studies done do suggest that there is a strong relation between insulin resistance diabetes mellitus and the occurrence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. With more fat cells present in the liver, they are unable to adequately utilize insulin to process glucose resulting in excess blood glucose levels.
Obesity or any other disease conditions related to the abdominal region, abuse of prescription drugs, or exposure to toxins in excess also have been linked to this type of liver disease. Rapid loss of weight by following unhealthy diet patterns or following a high-fat diet is also capable of causing this liver problem to develop eventually.
This type of fatty liver disease is normally noted when liver function tests, done on routine examination, comes back with abnormal results. When further imaging studies done do reveal fat deposits on the liver, then fatty liver disease will be the diagnosis.
If the condition is left undetected or untreated for an extended period of time, it can cause inflammation of the liver cells. Healthy liver cells begin to perish due to the inflamed cells; the liver will swell up, which later on can become damaged. Ultimately scarring of the liver takes place that can advance to a more severe stage called cirrhosis, which is an irreversible condition.
Lifestyle changes, smart eating choices, following an active exercise routine, performing regular checkups and treating other disease conditions when detected will all aid in preventing this liver problem from occurring in the first place.