Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease, which is excess fat collection in the liver cells, is of two different types – Alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver. Though the disease process is similar in both cases, the causes vary. The former type, as the name implies, is caused by heavy alcohol consumption; and the later again has varied causes.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver causes – This is a disease condition commonly seen in those who are suffering from metabolic disorders leading to high cholesterol, blood sugar and triglyceride levels; those who are obese due to these abnormal metabolic functions or because of unhealthy dietary patterns; or those who follow a sedentary lifestyle. Individuals who follow teetotalism as well as engage in a healthy lifestyle are also known to develop this liver condition; probably arising from overuse of prescription medications. All these can interfere with the proper functions of the organ, decrease its ability to process fats, and lead to its collection in the cells and between tissues.
Diagnosis – For a clear-cut diagnosis, performing a liver biopsy is considered apt. Samples of the liver tissue can be obtained with a needle insertion and is usually done under local anesthesia. If yellow patches are noted on the liver under microscopic examination without any signs of inflammation or damage, then fatty liver disease will be the diagnosis.
The said liver disease normally comes with little or no symptoms. Very rare cases are known of where the diagnosis is made due to its symptom presentation – which are severe upper quadrant abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, sudden weight loss or weight gain, tiredness, and a jaundiced appearance (this is noted usually in the last stages of disease development).
It is on regular blood tests and physical examinations that the abnormality gets noticed. If the results of liver function tests appear elevated, and the individual experiences tenderness or pain upon palpating the upper abdominal area, then liver problems should be suspected.
Treatment – Effective treatment will depend on the causes of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Since this liver condition is linked to excess body weight from metabolic disorders like diabetes, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels; bringing them under good control will help in better management of this.
Obesity can be treated well with putting a healthy diet plan in place. The individual should cut down on high-fat foods which will include meat and meat products; dairy-rich foods; as well as fried, baked, and highly processed ‘junk’ foods. Highly sweetened and alcoholic beverages should be completely avoided to prevent any further progression of the disease. The person should instead eat wholesome unprocessed foods, consume more of raw vegetables and fruits, and follow a low-salt and low-sugar diet.
A regular exercise pattern is next to be put in place and followed religiously by the individual in order to reduce body fat. A minimum of 30-minute exercise scheduled every day will work wonders in reducing body weight.
Certain medications used to treat lifestyle disorders like high cholesterol and diabetes may interfere with liver functions and cause fatty liver. These drugs will need to be removed and replaced with those that have less potential to bring about fatty liver condition.
These measures should be followed throughout the individual’s lifetime to prevent any further occurrences of this disease once cured.