Fatty liver is a disease in which too much fat gets accumulated inside the liver cells. The disease is also known as steatosis. The abnormal accumulation of fat in the liver was first observed in alcoholics, but later it was found that the condition also occurs in non-alcoholics. It usually appears in people who are obese or diabetics or to those who suffer from hypertriglyceridemia.
The exact reason that causes this condition is not fully understood. It seems that is some people, excessive fatty acids do not get stored in the fat cells, where they are usually stored and end up in the liver. Fats remain outside the cells and they cause the onset of a series of reactions leading to damage of hepatocytes. Women are affected more often, and the disease can occur in all age groups including children.
The condition has no symptoms, but in some rare cases the individual can experience abdominal pain, fever or swelling in the stomach. Due to the fact that the condition is usually asymptomatic, the reason for the visit to the doctor is the discovery of fatty infiltration of the liver ultrasound or an increase in the transaminases in blood tests. The frequency of non-alcoholic fatty liver varies, but in some countries it is between 15-20% of the population and it increases with age and the presence of obesity or diabetes.
More specifically, the causes of the hepatic steatosis are the following:
- Alcohol: The regular consumption of alcohol is one of the most common causes of this condition. Practically all patients who report long-term alcohol consumption suffer from hepatic steatosis.
- Medication: steroids, synthetic estrogen, oral contraceptives and more can cause hepatic steatosis, when taken for long periods of time.
- Diabetes: the risk of the disease increases when diabetes remains untreated.
- Obesity: Obesity and mainly abdominal obesity can be responsible for the disease.
- Sudden weight loss, crash diets resulting in rapid weight loss and can cause fat deposition in the liver.
- Other causes: A number of diseases such as hepatitis C, Crohn disease, ulcerative colitis and Wilson disease can also cause hepatic steatosis.
How to treat fatty liver disease:
The treatment of the disorder includes the shedding of excessive pounds and the maintenance of normal body weight. Losing weight is the most important step you could take to eliminate this condition. Some studies have shown that 20% to 40% of overweight or obese patients will develop hepatic steatosis. You should also include some physical activity in your lifestyle and take medicines to lower blood cholesterol. Your diet should include a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and it would be a good idea to avoid junk food.