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Fatty Liver Disease – A helpful guide

Knowledge Hub

4 mins readFact Checked
Author of post icon

Written By:

Atif Riaz

Medically Reviewed By:

Mr M. Usman

What is fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver disease is becoming increasingly common in many parts of the world, It is linked to many other problems including obesity, type II diabetes, more serious liver disease and other health problems.

The liver is one of the major abdominal organs and sits on the right side of the abdomen, it has two large sections or lobes aptly named the left and right lobes.

The liver has several functions including filtering blood from the digestive tract, secreting bile to go back into the intestines and producing important proteins for blood clotting to name a few. In fact, it is thought that the liver has up to 500 separate functions (in tandem with other organs).

Fatty Liver occurs when too much fat builds up in the liver cells. There can be a few reasons that can cause a build-up of fat in the liver cells and broadly this is split into two categories alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

NAFLD is the most common type of liver disease in developed countries. The average age of people who get it is between 40 and 50. Yet children and teenagers are developing NAFLD more now than ever before.

In most people, if NAFLD is mild, it doesn’t cause any serious liver-related health problems. But it can sometimes damage your liver if it’s severe

What are the symptoms of fatty liver disease?

NAFLD may not present with any symptoms in the early stages, often it is discovered as part of a routine upper abdomen ultrasound scan. However, further stages can include the following:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Slight pain or fullness in the abdominal area
  • Elevated levels of liver enzymes, including AST and ALT
  • Elevated insulin levels
  • Elevated triglyceride levels
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Moderate to severe abdominal pain
  • Yellowing of eyes and skin

How is fatty liver disease detected?

As mentioned, fatty liver may or may not present any symptoms so care and attention should always be paid to your health and if you have any concerns or do not feel well then a visit to your GP is always recommended.

Taking a proactive stance with your health is always a good thing and the gold standard non-invasive method of detecting a fatty liver is by having an ultrasound scan. At the scan clinic we can do this by itself as part of the Upper abdomen scan or as part of a proactive health checks for men and women.

Another diagnostic tool that is often used in combination is a blood test to check liver function and to check your blood cell count – both of these are available in our general blood test.

How can you remove the fat from the liver?

If you have had a scan and blood test and this has shown fatty liver then there is no specific treatment, medication or therapy for NAFLD, however, do not despair there are steps you can take to help manage the situation before it worsens.

The biggest step you can take to help the situation is to make changes to your lifestyle. Reducing or eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet such as foods with high carbohydrates and sugar content. If you drink alcohol, then limit your intake to the national recommend limits and seek professional help if you are finding it difficult to cut down your alcohol intake.

Exercise is the next big step you can take; studies have shown exercise reduces the liver fat content. If you have not done much exercise in the past then make sure you do this safely and take on a personal trainer even if this is to help you get started so that you know how to perform exercises properly without the risk of injuring yourself.

The advice above is important to take on board as ignoring the results and continuing an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to more serious liver problems and to a potential situation whereby the liver is unable to heal.

In all circumstances, it’s important to get medical advice from your GP/ Health care professional on what actions/steps to take.

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Fact Check Information

The Scan Clinic is committed to providing accurate and objective educational content about health and medical related topics. We know that there is a lot of misinformation out there, and we take our responsibility to be a trustworthy source of information seriously. Every article on our site is thoroughly fact-checked by our team of writers.

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