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Fatty Liver Disease: Symptoms and Diagnosis

Updated: Aug 23


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver cells. The buildup of fat can cause inflammation and scarring, which can lead to severe diseases like cirrhosis. This article will help you understand what causes NAFLD and how to treat it naturally.



Fatty liver develops when fat builds up in the liver cells.


Fatty liver is a buildup of fat inside the liver cells. It can be caused by obesity, diabetes, or high cholesterol. This causes inflammation and scarring in the liver tissue. Over time, fatty liver disease may lead to cirrhosis and even liver failure. If you have fatty liver disease and don't take steps to prevent it from worsening, you could end up with cirrhosis (scarring in your liver).

The good news is that fatty liver disease can usually be treated with a low-fat diet and exercise. But if you don't take steps to manage your weight, diabetes, or high blood pressure now — before these conditions develop into something serious like fatty liver — it may be harder for you later on down the road when this condition starts causing problems in your everyday life as well as on paper when it comes time for insurance companies to decide whether they'll cover treatment costs related specifically toward treating this issue."


What Causes Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a spectrum of liver disease that ranges from mild to severe. NAFLD is a significant cause of liver disease in the United States and is more common in people who are overweight or obese. It can also develop in people who do not consume alcohol.

In many cases, the cause of NAFLD is unknown; however, certain factors may increase your risk of developing it:

  • Being overweight or obese

  • A family history of type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol levels



Who Is at Risk for NAFLD?


You are at increased risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease if you:

  • Have a family history of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. If there is a family history of NAFLD, your risk for this condition increases.

  • Have type 2 diabetes mellitus or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing NAFLD. IGT is defined as having high blood sugar levels that are not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes but do increase your risk for developing the condition. For example, people with IGT may have to fast blood sugar levels between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL on their first visit after fasting for 8 hours (or 250 mg/dL two hours after eating).

Common Symptoms of NAFLD


Fatty liver disease can cause various symptoms that affect your overall health. Some common ones include:

  • Fatigue

  • Joint pain

  • Swelling in your extremities, such as hands and feet

  • Loss of appetite or weight loss

  • Nausea or vomiting (occasionally with blood)

  • Dark urine, pale stools, and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

How Is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Diagnosed?


Your doctor may suspect nonalcoholic fatty liver disease based on your symptoms, such as a swollen abdomen. They'll likely order blood tests to determine how much fat has accumulated in your liver. A blood test can also help confirm the presence of high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol levels, which are both risk factors for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. If you have other symptoms that suggest other conditions, such as diabetes or hepatitis C infection, your doctor may order additional tests to rule out these possibilities.

There are several other types of imaging scans available depending on the severity of a person's condition:

  • Abdominal ultrasound — A sonogram uses sound waves to create an image inside the body; it can detect abnormalities in fat distribution throughout various organs (such as the liver) and measure abdominal fat content

How Is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Treated?


It's not always possible to treat NAFLD with lifestyle changes alone. In some cases, more invasive treatments may be required:

  • Medication therapy

  • Surgery (hepatic lobectomy)

  • Liver transplantation

  • Other

* Lifestyle changes: A doctor who specializes in treating liver diseases (hepatologist) may be able to help you make lifestyle changes that can improve your NAFLD—especially if it's not too advanced. These changes include: Eating a healthier diet and exercising regularly. This can improve your health and decrease the amount of fat stored in your liver. Your doctor might also recommend that you lose weight; while this won't eliminate the excess fat in your liver.

Probiotics in the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease


Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your digestive system. They help you digest food and absorb nutrients, they help keep your immune system healthy, and they can even help with weight loss.

Liver problems aren't the only ones probiotics can improve. Some people think probiotics might be an excellent way to manage nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD happens when fat builds up in your liver, making it hard for the organ to filter toxins from your bloodstream. It's common among overweight or obese people who drink little or no alcohol but don't have hepatitis C virus (HCV) or other chronic infections that cause liver scarring. Even though there isn't much research on how well antibiotics work for NAFLD, some small studies have found that taking certain types of antibiotics may ease symptoms such as fatigue and weakness caused by this condition over time—and may even lead to weight loss after several months!


Turmeric can be used to treat nonalcoholic liver disease.


Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an ancient spice used in many dishes and as a coloring agent. Traditional medicine has been used for thousands of years to treat inflammation and pain, including liver problems.

Coffee may promote the functions of the liver through DNA methylation.


Coffee may promote the functions of the liver through DNA methylation.

The liver is an organ that performs several vital functions, including metabolism, detoxification, and filtering blood. It also produces bile acids, which help digest fats and absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.

It is one of the largest organs in your body and sits under your ribs on your right side. Its job is to filter toxins from your blood so that they can be removed from your body through feces (poop) or urine (pee).


Can nonalcoholic fatty liver disease be treated with black pepper?


Yes, piperine has been used to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Piperine is an alkaloid, which means it's a natural chemical found in plants. Piperine and other alkaloids have many uses across the pharmaceutical and food industries.

The results of studies are mixed about whether piperine can completely cure nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The quality of these studies was low because they were small and short-term (lasting only one month). More research is needed to know if this treatment works over long periods or if it has any side effects.


Can nonalcoholic fatty liver disease be treated with fish oil?


Fish oil has been shown to reduce fat in the liver. It is also used to treat other liver conditions. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, considered beneficial for health in general and may help with symptoms such as fatigue and itching.

However, fish oil is not a cure for NAFLD; it can only help with symptoms such as fatigue and itching.


The first step is to work with your doctor to find the best treatment plan. This can help prevent any possible complications, such as cirrhosis.


The first step is to work with your doctor to find the best treatment plan. This can help prevent any possible complications, such as cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis is when your liver tissue becomes damaged and scarred due to disease or injury. Cirrhosis can lead to complications, including liver failure and cancer.


Conclusion


With the growing rates of NAFLD, it's essential to know what you can do to prevent this disease. If you're at risk of developing it, talk with your doctor about lifestyle changes that could help improve your chances of avoiding complications. Eating right and exercising regularly are two great places to start!

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