According to the American Liver Foundation, “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the buildup of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol”. It’s normal to have some fat in the liver. However, if it accounts for more than 5-10% of the liver’s weight, fatty liver (steatosis) may be present. If left untreated, chronic liver disease or cirrhosis may occur.
Patients with fatty liver may experience fatigue or abdominal discomfort. If cirrhosis develops, patients may experience associated symptoms including confusion, abdominal swelling and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Can Fatty Liver Disease be Treated?
Fatty liver disease is commonly seen in patients suffering from obesity, elevated cholesterol and diabetes. It may also be associated with the use of certain medications including corticosteroids, antidepressants and antipsychotic medications.
Diagnosis is often indicated when blood tests reveal an elevation in blood liver enzymes. Appropriate studies are then performed to exclude other potential causes of liver disease. An ultrasound or liver biopsy may be performed to determine if inflammation or scarring is present.
While there is currently no specific treatment for fatty liver disease, patients are encouraged to maintain an ideal body weight, avoid alcohol consumption, control cholesterol and triglycerides elevation and aggressively treat underlying diabetes mellitus.
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