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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

Fatty liver


Fatty liver is a condition where excess fat builds up in your liver. Your liver is an important organ that helps you digest food, store energy, and fight infections. Having a small amount of fat in your liver is normal, but too much can cause problems.


Types of Fatty Liver

There are two main types of fatty liver:

- Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD): This is caused by drinking too much alcohol. It can damage your liver and lead to inflammation and scarring.

- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): This is not related to alcohol consumption. It is more common in people who are overweight, have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. It can also lead to inflammation and scarring.


Symptoms of Fatty Liver

Fatty liver often does not cause any symptoms. However, some people may experience:

- Fatigue or weakness

- Abdominal pain or discomfort

- Nausea or loss of appetite

- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

- Swelling of the abdomen or legs

If fatty liver progresses to cirrhosis, which is severe scarring of the liver, it can cause serious complications such as:

- Bleeding or bruising easily

- Confusion or memory problems

- Fluid buildup in the abdomen or lungs

- Increased risk of infections

- Liver failure or cancer


Diagnosis of Fatty Liver

To diagnose fatty liver, your doctor may ask you about your medical history, lifestyle, and symptoms. They may also perform some tests, such as:

- Blood tests: These can check your liver function and rule out other causes of liver problems.

- Ultrasound: This is a painless imaging test that uses sound waves to create pictures of your organs. It can show how much fat is in your liver and if there is any scarring.

- Liver biopsy: This is a procedure where a small sample of your liver tissue is taken with a needle and examined under a microscope. It can confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of fatty liver.


Treatment of Fatty Liver

There is no specific medication for fatty liver. The main treatment is to address the underlying cause and prevent further damage to your liver. Some of the steps you can take are:


- Limit or avoid alcohol: Alcohol can worsen fatty liver and cause more inflammation and scarring. If you have AFLD, you should stop drinking alcohol completely. If you have NAFLD, you should limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.


- Lose weight: Excess weight can contribute to fatty liver and increase the risk of complications. Losing weight can help reduce the amount of fat in your liver and improve its function. Aim for a gradual and sustainable weight loss of 1kg per week by following a healthy diet and exercise plan.


- Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diet can help you manage your weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. It can also provide your liver with the nutrients it needs to function properly. A good diet for fatty liver includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and water. You should avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, salt, and processed ingredients.


- Exercise regularly: Physical activity can help you burn calories, improve your metabolism, lower your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and strengthen your muscles and bones. It can also improve your mood and energy levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing.


- Manage other health conditions: If you have diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or any other health condition that can affect your liver, you should follow your doctor's advice on how to control them with medication and lifestyle changes. This can help prevent further damage to your liver and reduce the risk of complications.


Prevention of Fatty Liver

The best way to prevent fatty liver is to maintain a healthy lifestyle that supports your liver health. Some of the tips you can follow are:


- Limit or avoid alcohol: Alcohol can harm your liver and increase the risk of fatty liver and other liver diseases. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and never binge drink.


- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase the amount of fat in your liver and lead to inflammation and scarring. Losing weight can help prevent or reverse fatty liver. Aim for a healthy body mass index (BMI) of 18 to 23.


- Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diet can provide your liver with the nutrients it needs to function properly and prevent the buildup of fat and toxins. A good diet for liver health includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and water. You should avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, salt, and processed ingredients.


- Exercise regularly: Physical activity can help you burn calories, improve your metabolism, lower your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and strengthen your muscles and bones. It can also improve your mood and energy levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing.


- Avoid toxins: Toxins are substances that can harm your liver and cause inflammation and scarring. Some of the common sources of toxins include tobacco smoke, drugs, pesticides, chemicals, and environmental pollutants. You should avoid or limit your exposure to these toxins as much as possible. You should also be careful with the use of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can affect your liver, such as acetaminophen, statins, and antibiotics. Always follow the dosage instructions and consult your doctor before taking any new medication.


- Get regular check-ups: Regular check-ups can help you monitor your liver function and detect any signs of fatty liver or other liver diseases early. Your doctor may perform blood tests, ultrasound scans, or liver biopsies to assess your liver health. You should also get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, which are viral infections that can damage your liver.


Outlook for Fatty Liver

Fatty liver is a common condition that usually does not cause any serious problems or symptoms. However, if left untreated, it can progress to inflammation and scarring of the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer. The outlook for fatty liver depends on the cause, stage, and treatment of the condition. In most cases, fatty liver can be prevented or reversed with lifestyle changes that improve your liver health. If you have fatty liver or any risk factors for it, you should talk to your doctor about the best ways to manage your condition and prevent complications.


Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist


Kify Hospital

Danavaipeta

Rajahmundry

Phone : 85000 23456

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