Fatty liver is a common disease that develops in the form of fat accumulation in the liver due to various reasons. It is normal to have a small amount of fat in the liver in healthy people, and as long as this level is maintained, no adverse events occur in individuals. However, due to an unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, and bad habits, the excess of this fat amount results in fatty liver. Fatty liver is seen in one out of every 4 individuals in Turkey, and some of them also have functional or structural disorders in the liver. It is a problem that needs to be taken seriously and treated because it can lead to serious consequences, up to liver damage.
What is fatty liver?
Fatty liver is a liver disease that occurs due to the accumulation of excess fat in the liver cells. As the degree of this lubrication increases, inflammation begins to occur in the liver, and organ functions decrease. This may cause destruction (necrosis) in liver cells and may pave the way for serious liver diseases that can reach liver cancer and cirrhosis. This disease, also called hepatosteatosis, progresses insidiously and usually does not show symptoms until it reaches a certain level. Early-stage fatty liver is usually detected incidentally during ultrasonographic examinations performed for a different reason. However, as it progresses, the disease begins to show symptoms due to both itself and the different types of diseases it causes. This disease, which poses a very serious threat to liver health, should be treated as soon as it is diagnosed, and patients with this diagnosis should be checked regularly.
What are the symptoms of fatty liver?
İt does not have a specific symptom, especially in its early stages. It usually does not cause symptoms and does not cause any problems in the daily life of patients. However, as the disease progresses and the level of fat increases, some patients begin to feel pressure and fullness in the upper right part of the abdomen. This is due to the pressure of the growing liver on the surrounding tissues and bones. In a patient with advanced fat and enlargement of the liver, it is possible to detect the disease even during a physical examination by the physician, since the liver presses between the ribs. Other common symptoms of fatty liver disease are:
- Fatigue and low energy
- Pain in the chest and abdomen
- Don’t get tired easily
- Nausea and vomiting
İt is a disease that can manifest itself with its symptoms on the skin. These rare symptoms are seen in individuals with liver disease caused by fat. Itching, resulting in redness, and flaking are some of the skin manifestations of fatty liver disease. For this reason, individuals who have such problems should have the necessary controls and examinations, considering that they may have liver disease.
What are the causes of fatty liver?
The liver is an organ that plays an important role in fat metabolism in the body. When the working order and enzyme balances are disturbed due to various reasons, the liver begins to become fat and grow. There are many factors that play a role in the development of this condition. One of them is an unhealthy diet. When many factors related to nutrition, such as the types of food consumed during the day, the amount of fat taken daily, the intervals between meals and the times between meals and sleep times, are not adjusted in a healthy and balanced way, the probability of developing a fatty liver is quite high. Apart from this, the factors that are risk factors in the formation of fatty liver are as follows:
- Alcohol and smoking
- rapid weight loss
- Some medications that are used regularly
- sedentary life
- irregular lifestyle
- high cholesterol
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Consumption of foods high in toxins
The incidence of it is almost the same in men and women. However, middle-aged and older individuals are much more likely to develop this disease than younger people. Fatty liver, which is seen in approximately 30% of adult individuals, occurs due to the deterioration of the enzymatic balance in the liver in one out of every 10 individuals.
What are the types of fatty liver?
That occurs mainly due to 3 different conditions. These are acute fatty liver due to pregnancy, fatty liver due to alcohol use, and simple fatty liver not related to alcohol or pregnancy. In hepatosteatosis, which is basically examined under these 3 groups, there are stages determined according to the progression level and type of the disease. The stages of fatty liver are:
Stage-1: It is the mildest stage of the disease called simple fatty liver disease. Fatty in this stage does not cause damage to the liver.
Stage-2: In this stage, which is also called non-alcoholic (non-alcoholic) steatohepatitis, inflammations occur due to fatty liver in the liver.
Stage-3: In the third stage, which is the fibrosis stage, the liver tissues begin to harden and turn into connective tissue. This indicates liver damage.
Stage-4: In this stage, which is the most advanced stage of fatty liver, the development of liver cirrhosis is in question.
How is fatty liver diagnosed?
Elevated blood lipids (hyperlipidemia) and higher than normal blood levels of liver enzymes in obesity and type-1 diabetes patients are sufficient for a preliminary diagnosis of fatty liver disease. If the patient does not have a habit of constantly drinking alcohol, this picture most likely indicates simple fatty liver. Studies on hepatitis B and C viruses should also be included in blood tests. Liver ultrasonography, tomography, magnetic resonance (MR), and liver biopsy applications are performed in order to definitively diagnose liver fat. The way the treatment process will be planned is decided by the physicians by evaluating factors such as the patient’s other diseases accompanying hepatosteatosis, the stage of the adiposity and how long it has lasted, and the blood findings. A treatment process should be started immediately to stop the progression of the fat in the liver and to eliminate the fat, and the patient should be checked regularly.
How is the fatty liver disease treated?
After diagnosis or pre-diagnosis in patients who are thought to have simple that disease, patients who are above their ideal weight or at the level of obesity should be directed to a dietitian, and they should start a diet and exercise regularly. In diabetic patients, blood sugar regulation should be ensured with oral anti-diabetic drugs and, if necessary, insulin applications and should be followed up regularly. In patients with hyperlipidemia, the use of drugs that help balance blood lipids may be required. Simple fatty liver can be easily treated in patients who comply with this treatment. After a treatment period that will be applied in this way for 6 months, liver biopsy should be applied to patients whose liver enzymes continue to be elevated, and necessary investigations are made on the stage of the disease and the level of damage to the liver. While it is easier to recycle the first stage adiposity, it may take many years to recycle the fat in the liver with fibrosis and cirrhosis. In these patients, in addition to the treatment plan recommended by the physician, regular exercise, diet, and blood sugar control should be taken care of throughout life. In addition, regardless of the stage, patients with fatty liver should completely avoid smoking and alcohol use.
The liver is an organ that has important duties in our body and is responsible for the fulfillment of vital functions. Therefore, the protection of liver health is of great importance in terms of life expectancy and quality. You can have information about your liver health by not neglecting your routine blood tests, which should be done every 3 or 6 months depending on the age group. If you have been diagnosed with fatty liver disease, you can apply to a health institution and undergo a detailed examination of your disease, and you can protect the health of your liver by following the treatment plan that will be recommended by your doctor according to the level of fatty liver.
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