As the largest internal organ inside of the human body, the liver is responsible for more than its fair share of functions. Seated on the right side of the the upper abdomen below the ribcage, the liver is responsible for maintaining the overall balance of nutrients while discarding any unnecessary toxins from the body. A healthy liver will be able to perform each function effortlessly. A fatty liver, on the other hand, will not only have difficulty performing its delegated duties, but also cause a series of health issues in the body. Better known as fatty liver disease, this disorder is currently the most common form of liver disease in the U.S. and Europe. With a variety of causes and symptoms, this disorder has the ability to touch a multitude of peopleís lives.
What Is Fatty Liver Disease?
A liver that functions normally is able to filter blood, break down waste, and produce bile for the digestive system; fatty liver disease is something that will hinder these functions. If the liver has to process too much fat, an accumulation of those cells will persist in the liver. As fat cells continue to accumulate, the liver will no longer be able to aid in the removal of toxins from the body. Although it is not a deadly disorder, a liver in a prolonged fatty state will weigh heavily on the overall health of the individual.
What Are The Symptoms?
While many individuals experience no fatty liver symptoms, they are experienced by a few people with the disorder.
One of the common symptoms experienced is that of fatty liver pain. As a fatty liver becomes inflamed, its lining will begin to stretch. This stretching will cause a dull pain just below the ribcage.
Another common symptom is that of fatigue. Although the reasoning behind it is not fully understood, it is believed that the accumulation of fat cells alters the chemical composition of the brain and causes a person to have less energy.
Digestive distress may also occur when one has fatty liver disease. Because a fatty liver inhibits the production of bile, a lack of it in the digestive system may affect the way it functions. Symptoms such as nausea, bloody stool, vomiting, dark urine, loss of appetite and sudden weight loss may all indicate the presence of a fatty liver.
In more severe cases, jaundice may be experienced. However, this yellowing of the skin or eyes may actually indicate that the liver is beginning to fail.
When no physical symptoms occur, fatty liver disease can still be detected by a doctor. In blood tests, for example, doctors will be able to notice if the liver chemistry is off. In addition to blood tests, doctors are also able to recognize a fatty liver with the help of ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs.
What Causes It To Occur?
With so many individuals ailed by this disorder, one would have to wonder how it comes about.
A primary subset of all fatty liver-diseased individuals are abusers of drugs and alcohol. While these substances interfere with most processes in the body, they truly wreak havoc on the liver. Alcohol, in particular, contains a high amount of calories from fat. When this substance is abused, the excess fat is stored in various parts of the body; especially in the liver.
As fatty liver disease is caused by an excess of fat stored by the liver, it stands to reason that it can be caused by a poor diet. Diets that are high in fat and low in other nutrients will undoubtedly contribute to storage of fat in the liver.
Who Is Prone To Getting It?
There are two forms of fatty liver disease: alcoholic and nonalcoholic. Unfortunately, this indicates that this disorder can be acquired by a multitude of people for a variety of reasons.
Substance abusers are most likely to become afflicted by the disorder. Drugs do not contain fat; however, they do increase the amount of toxins that the liver has to filter. By overrunning the liver with toxins, substance abusers risk damaging the liverís ability to process fat.
Alcoholics are ultimately pumping their livers full of fat. With a fat content of 7 calories per gram, alcohol presents a relatively high amount of fat for the body. As stated previously, alcohol abuse will provide unnecessary amounts of alcohol and it will accumulate in the liver.
Individuals with poor diets
Diet that are rich in fatty, sugary foods will provide excess nutrients for the body. Unfortunately, many of these same nutrients will have to be stored as fat until they are needed. Individuals who maintain these diets will alter the liverís metabolism for the worse; resulting in an increase in store fat cells.
Diabetics who do not manage their diets or blood sugars are also at risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Genetically predisposed individuals
While this disorder does not appear on its own, it can be influenced by genetic factors.
What Are The Treatment Options?
Fortunately for those with the condition, treatment of fatty liver is completely possible. With a few lifestyle adjustments, fatty liver treatment can be implemented successfully and the liver will return to normal.
Eliminate alcohol consumption
Alcohol-abusers who have fatty liver disease will reverse the effects of the disorder by abstaining from alcohol use.
Diet and exercise
Those who were afflicted by the disorder through metabolic issues will benefit from eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.