What is fatty liver disease?
When fat accumulates in the hepatic cells, we can suffer from fatty liver disease. This condition is closely related to obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In many cases, adipose cells fill up with fat and “pass on” the excess to nearby organs.
Certain people are more susceptible to this disease:
- Middle-aged women
- Overweight people
- Patients with diabetes or high cholesterol
- Practioners of certain dietary habits
- People with an alcohol addiction
Signs of fatty liver disease
The bad news is that in the majority of cases, the hepatic steatosis doesn’t show any symptoms. In other words, until a proper examination is sought, it’s difficult to detect the disease. There are three kinds of exams that help diagnosis fatty liver disease:
- Blood tests (determines transaminase levels)
- Liver sonogram (the brighter and bigger the liver appears, the more probable the disease)
- Biopsy (tests the extent of the disease)
Some patients actually do experience symptoms or suffer from certain health problems that can be traced to hepatic steatosis:
1. Abdominal pain
The discomfort, or “stabbing” sensation, in the center or upper part of the abdomen. This pain doesn’t result from any activity nor any certain kind of action. It can appear after eating because the stomach expands and presses against the enlarged liver.
2. Abdominal swelling
Ascites results from hepatic diseases and is the presence of liquid in between the visceral and the parietal peritoneum. The signs of this problem are abdominal distention, indigestion, lower back pain and breathing difficulties. It may also lead to swollen ankles.
If anything that you eat (regardless of if it’s healthy of in a small quantity) upsets your stomach or leads to nausea or gases, there might be a complication in your liver. People who have fatty liver often go to the doctor believing they suffer from indigestion but realize that the cause is actually hepatic steatosis.
When the liver doesn’t work in sync with metabolism, it slows down. This happens when any important organ struggles with a problem. The body tries to protect itself from the situation and compensates by pumping less blood.
In this particular case, it can lead to inexplicable exhaustion, concentration problems, confusion, fatigue or lack of energy. The person can also lose interest in activities they once partook in and instead, sleep for hours and hours.
5. Dark urine
We can detect problems or illnesses through urine. Let’s not forget that this liquid transports toxins and wastes. In cases of fatty liver disease, the fluid will be a darker color than normal which doesn’t lighten throughout the day (though urine is normally darker in the mornings, it usually proceeds to clear up as the day proceeds).
Feces can also present changes: they might appear whiter or clayish with a stronger odor than normal.
6. Skin changes
Jaundice is a sign of hepatic steatosis. It’s characterized by yellowish skin and mucus due to the increased levels of bilirubin built-up in tissue. It may occur because of the destruction of red blood cells or because of a gall bladder complication.
Fatty liver diseases leads to other skin changes such as: discolored neck and armpits, bursting facial blood vessels, reddened palms or spider veins on the back, breast or shoulder areas. In addition, white spots may appear underneath nails.
Diet and fatty liver disease
Once the fatty liver disease as been diagnosed, the next step is to start a proper treatment. In addition to the medication that your doctor may prescribe, it’s fundamental to follow a low fat diet and to exercise. We recommend the following:
We recommend that you read: 11 Signs of Liver Toxcity
1. Reduce intake of refined foods
This food group includes flour and white sugar. Instead of these two, opt for whole grains and integral products.
2. Follow a Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets around because it’s based on foods that are low in fats, or foods that have healthy fats. For example, olive oil is a key player in this great lifestyle.
3. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol is one of the liver’s biggest enemies. Consuming too many alcoholic drinks can lead not only to steatosis, but also to cirrhosis.
4. Avoid certain medications
Consult your doctor to find out which drugs can worsen your condition. Your doctor will probably advise you to stop using painkillers, estrogen and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Exercise is a great way to help you feel better and aid your hepatic system in functioning correctly. You can take a stroll in the park, walk your dog, ride your bike or swim; choose your preferred method of exercise and do it a minimum of three times a week.