The liver is one of the most important organs in the human body, playing a crucial role in many processes such as breaking down food, producing bile, and removing toxins from the bloodstream. Fatty liver is a medical condition that occurs when an excessive amount of fat accumulates within the cells of the liver. This can be caused by poor diet or lifestyle choices, genetics, alcohol abuse, or certain medical conditions such as diabetes and obesity.
Unfortunately, fatty liver disease affects approximately 25% of people worldwide, often without them being aware. However, with early diagnosis and management, fatty liver can be managed successfully and often even reversed, so it is important to identify its signs and symptoms early.
Here is a list of causes, signs, and symptoms of fatty liver:
1. Abnormal weight gain or sudden weight loss – Rapid fluctuations in weight can be an indicator that the body is struggling to maintain balance.
2. High cholesterol levels – If levels of cholesterol remain high despite using lifestyle methods such as exercise and dieting, this may indicate fatty liver disease.
3. Unhealthy eating habits – Eating too many unhealthy foods such as saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, processed sugar, and alcohol can lead to fatty liver disease.
4. Altered liver enzymes – Liver enzyme tests are often used to detect any abnormalities in the organ’s functioning including fatty liver disease.
5. Fatigue – A general feeling of tiredness or lack of energy can be a sign of fatty liver degradation.
6. Elevated blood sugar levels – If glucose levels remain high despite healthy eating, this could be an indication that the body is struggling to break down food correctly and efficiently.
7. Abdominal pain and tenderness – Stomach discomfort such as sharp pains or bloating can indicate fatty liver disease, especially if it persists for more than a few days.
8. Nausea – Feeling sick and lethargic after eating can also be indicative of fatty liver damage.
9. Jaundice – A yellowing of skin color is often linked with infection or malfunction in the liver which can include fatty liver disease.
10. Itching – If there is an excess of toxins within the body, this can cause discomfort in the form of itchy skin as a result of poor liver function.
11. Dark urine color – Urine that appears darker than usual may be a sign that the organ isn’t functioning correctly and is struggling to process waste material.
12. Reddening of palms – The palms can appear red or flushed due to poor circulation caused by fatty liver disease.
13. Swelling in legs or feet – Edema (fluid retention) is often associated with malfunction in the liver which can indicate fatty liver damage if it persists for more than a few days.
14. Enlarged abdomen – A bloated or distended stomach can be a symptom of fatty liver disease, as well as obesity.
15. Poor appetite or anorexia – Fatty liver can cause a decrease in hunger which can lead to unhealthy weight loss if left unchecked.
16. Mental confusion and disorientation – Damage to the liver can cause mental confusion or difficulty concentrating on tasks due to reduced oxygen flow to the brain caused by fatty liver disease.
17. Vitamin deficiencies – An imbalance of vitamins within the body can lead to deficiencies that may be related to fatty liver damage.
18. Liver enlargement – If the organ is larger than normal it could indicate fat has built up inside its cells and needs to be treated accordingly.
19. Gallstones – Gallbladder stones can form as a result of fatty liver disease and may need to be removed if they become too large or cause further health complications.
Fatty liver can be a serious medical condition that requires prompt attention. If left untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver which is an advanced stage of liver damage. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, fatty liver can often be reversible, so becoming aware of the causes, signs, and symptoms of this condition is key to successful management.