Sunday, October 3, 2021

Oh, No! Do I Have Fatty Liver Disease?

So, you think you may have fatty liver disease. There are some basic questions to ask yourself: are you fatigued all the time? Do you experience nausea often? Are you thirsty all the time? Or are your eyeballs turning yellow? If you answered yes to some of these questions, you should consult your gastroenterologist. Also, if you are obese or overweight, have Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome or are a heavy drinker, you may be at risk of developing fatty liver disease. But let us give you some insight into fatty liver disease, its symptoms, how to get tested and your treatment options.


What is Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty liver disease occurs when fat builds up in your liver cells, which prevents it from working normally. A healthy liver contains a small amount of fat. Fat becomes a problem when it reaches five to 10 percent of your liver’s weight.


While the disease is common, it is a severe illness that can lead to liver failure. Liver failure can affect many of your body’s organs. Without treatment, both acute and chronic liver failure may eventually result in death. Fatty liver disease may be caused by obesity, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) or HIV infection.


Good news: fatty liver is largely preventable by taking steps to decrease your risk of the diseases that cause it.


What are the Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease?

The symptoms of fatty liver disease include fatigue, weakness, weight loss or poor appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and swelling in the legs and abdomen due to fluid accumulation. Although fatty liver disease does not always cause symptoms, you should be aware of any unusual feelings, such as pain on the right side under your rib cage, which could indicate inflammation on that side of the liver.


How Do I Get Tested for Fatty Liver Disease?

The diagnosis of fatty liver disease includes a physical exam, blood tests to measure the level of enzymes in your blood and imaging scans such as ultrasounds or CTs to detect fatty tissue on the liver. The blood tests reveal markers associated with fatty liver, which are alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) and total bilirubin.


What are the Common Treatments for Fatty Liver Disease?

If you are diagnosed with fatty liver disease, your doctor may treat you immediately or refer you to a specialist. Treatment of fatty liver disease focuses on stopping the progression and improving existing symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), itching, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain due to inflammation in the upper right abdomen and fatty build-up.


Treatment for fatty liver disease typically involves lifestyle changes such as losing weight, getting more exercise and eliminating alcohol consumption. If you are overweight or obese, your doctor may prescribe medications to help you lose weight. The medicines can be diet pills that decrease appetite, reduce hunger pangs between meals, increase the feeling of fullness after eating a small amount of food or even block the absorption of fat by your intestine.


Treatment may also involve taking medications to control diabetes, cholesterol and triglycerides.


Still have questions about fatty liver disease or other gastrointestinal issues? For more information on liver conditions and treatments, contact Gastro MD. We are a cutting-edge clinical gastroenterology practice that sets the standard in digestive health care.

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