Categories: Liver

Fatty Liver Disease: a silent killer

A. What is fatty liver disease and what are risk factors?

Fatty liver is an accumulation of fat in the liver which can cause damage to the liver cells and may progress gradually to liver failure. Fatty liver disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a spectrum of a wide range of liver diseases. Overweight or obese people, diabetic patients have more risk of having a fatty liver.

B. How fatty liver disease occurs and how to know if you have this?

  • NAFLD is a result of abnormal metabolism and excess calories and fat absorbed from food, transported to the liver and ultimately stored in the liver as fat.
  • There are no symptoms for NAFLD, so-called a silent disease. It is usually identified incidentally on ultrasonography or fibroscan.

C. What are the grades and consequences of fatty liver disease?

  • Fatty liver is graded as grade I, II or III depending on subjective assessment of fat accumulation in the liver. If you have fat but no inflammation or tissue damage, the diagnosis is NAFLD.
  • If fat leads to inflammation and liver damage, the diagnosis is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
  • Further, it can progress to fibrosis in the liver called fibrosis and irreversible liver damage called cirrhosis which can lead to Liver Cancer .

D. What to do if you have a fatty liver?

If someone on routine screening or incidentally detected to have fatty liver, he should not panic as it is very slowly progressive and usually preventable & treatable disease. Ultrasonography and fibroscan of the liver along with few blood tests are done for detailed evaluation by a liver specialist. Self and inappropriate medication can further damage the liver.

E. Is fatty liver life-threatening and what are the implications of this disease?

Fortunately, NAFLD can be detected easily and can be treated but progression to cirrhosis and liver cancers can be life-threatening. NAFLD is an important risk factor for heart-related disease ; many patients with it may dye from heart failure before they have liver failure.

F. Can fatty liver be reversed?

Yes, it can be reversed if detected and treated at an early stage. If you have NASH, no medication is available to reverse the fat deposition in your liver. A healthy diet, increasing physical activity and medications can improve fatty liver and decrease the progression of advanced Liver Disease .

G. How to prevent and treat fatty liver disease?

  1. Weight optimization in a controlled and safe manner
  2. Diet modification: Reduce calories intake by 15-20%, reduce carbohydrates like sugars & starch, and avoid fats, soft drinks, fast foods and heavy meals
  3. Eat a healthy balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables
  4. Avoid alcohol
  5. Check diabetes and get proper treatment
  6. Increase physical activity, walking, exercise as advised by a doctor
  7. Regular check-ups by a liver specialist
  8. Specific medications to improve fatty liver and liver damage

Dr. Mahesh Gupta, Consultant – Gastroenterology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi

Narayana Health

Recent Posts

FAQ’s on Paediatric Anaesthesia

INFORMATION FOR PARENTS & GUARDIANS This explains what to expect when your child comes into…

7 days ago

Doc my child does not “Sleep at Night” – Please help!!

A frantic mother brings an 18-month-old with complaints of her child getting up frequently in…

1 week ago

Heart failure in today’s world!

Heart failure is a commonly rising medical problem these days, especially in the elderly population.…

1 week ago

Cardiovascular Disease in Children

What are the Cardiovascular diseases seen in children? The majority of children who suffer from…

1 week ago

Common issues in Newborns

Here are some of the common issues faced by parents in Newborns: Skin Telangietatic nevi…

1 week ago

What is Leaky Heart Valve?

The heart is the vital organ of the body that pushes blood all through the…

1 week ago