The liver is responsible for breaking down proteins, fat and carbohydrates in food in exchange for energy. It controls and maintains our metabolism. It produces hormones and other essential substances. It assists in ridding the body of toxic wastes by acting as a detoxifying agent. These responsibilities are the reason why the liver is an important organ in the human body. Something that will threaten the liver from functioning properly is fatty liver disease. Without treatment it can cause irreversible damage thanks to complications such as liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Fatty Liver Definition and Factors
To understand the symptoms of fatty liver it is imperative that we understand more about it. Fatty liver, or steatosis, is the buildup of fat in the liver cells without inflammation. The weight of the liver contains around 5-10% fat. This condition comes in two types: alcoholic and non-alcoholic. One group consumed alcohol and the other did not. A person is grouped in this category depending on what caused steatosis or steatohepatitis. Steatohepatitis is a more serious condition that causes inflammation and damaged lever cells.
Because this disease is mainly caused by alcohol the alcoholics are at risk the most. Major risk factors for non-alcoholics are diabetic, obese people and drugs/medication. Minor risk factors are people whose body canít resist insulin, bodies with high triglyceride blood levels and people who already have serious health conditions. Additional factors that can contribute to alcoholic types are hepatitis C and iron overload. For non-alcoholic types its heredity.
Fatty Liver Symptoms and Diagnosis
Initial stages of the disease go undetected. The liver will enlarge without discomfort. When it gets worse the symptoms start to reveal itself. They are nausea, appetite loss, weight loss, vomiting, dry mouth, fever, rib cage pain and swollen legs/feet. There may be skin discoloration, blood vessels that shape like stars or look spidery, yellow skin, white eyes, gum bleeds and nose bleeds. More severe symptoms are feeling weak or dizzy, fainting and memory lapses/forgetfulness. As soon as any of these symptoms are discovered go to the doctor immediately.
The doctor will check for this by doing blood tests (for inflammation in the liver), MRIs/CAT scans (to get a picture of the swollen liver), and liver biopsy (small sample of liver tissue is taken from the skin and analyzed under a microscope). Once the tests come back it is best to ask questions. Understand what the tests reveal and ask if this is related to another medical problem. Also ask the doctor about treatment options.
Fatty Liver Treatment
Most steatosis treatments start with the cause. For example if the cause is alcohol stop consuming alcohol completely; if the cause is obesity a person is forced to lose weight. Diabetic patients will have to control the sugar in the blood and so on. If there is an addiction to alcohol, food, sugar or anything related to this disease the person must fight it. For example alcoholics need to go to a rehab center while an obese person must get on a diet and exercise. All a person has to do is practice temperance. The only way it isnít is if the case is extremely severe. The only option at this point is surgery. The treatment of fatty liver is all about changing the lifestyle to a healthy and positive one.