4. Fatty Liver Disease
It’s normal for everyone to have some amounts of fat in the liver. Fat accumulates in the liver cells from triglycerides and other fats from the foods we eat, and if it builds up to account for more than 10 percent of the weight of the liver, it’s classified as fatty liver disease. Also known as steatosis, it occasionally causes no damage, but often it will lead to inflammation, which causes the liver to grow hardened with scarring. This condition is known as cirrhosis, and can cause serious complications if not treated.
There are two main types of fatty liver disease. The first is alcoholic liver disease (ALD), which is caused by excessive alcohol intake, hepatitis C, obesity or an overload of iron in the body. The second is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is more likely to occur at random and to those who are middle-aged, overweight, have high cholesterol or diabetes. Other causes include medication, autoimmune disease, malnutrition or rapid weight loss. Fatty liver disease can also occur during pregnancy, though this is rare.
Often, fatty liver disease can affect a person without their knowing it. The symptoms are often non-existent or blamed on something else, as they include tiredness, weight loss, weakness, nausea and confusion. These symptoms may also be accompanied by an inflamed liver, pain in the belly, and melasma (dark-colored patches of skin) around the neck or under the arms.
Fatty liver disease can be detected through a blood test, physical examination, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scans, or medical resonance imaging (MRI). Treatment includes weight loss, reducing fat intake in the diet, avoiding alcohol, controlling blood sugar levels, increasing physical activity and continuing to receive regular check-ups to ensure the condition is not worsening.