What is it?

Fatty liver disease describes a group of disorders characterized by having fat accumulate in the liver in a harmful amount. The accumulation of fat in the liver can cause inflammation, damage, and scarring and lead to liver failure. The two leading causes of fatty liver are excess alcohol consumption and a combination of high blood sugar, obesity, and high levels of fat in the blood. When fatty liver disease is caused by alcohol consumption, it’s called "alcoholic fatty liver disease" (AFLD). In other cases, it is termed "non-alcoholic fatty liver disease" (NAFLD).

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Fatty Liver Disease (FLD).

Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Hepatic Steatosis
- Alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Chronic hepatitis due to fatty liver
- Chronic yellow atrophy of liver
- Hepatosplenomegaly
- Neonatal hepatosplenomegaly
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver
- Steatohepatitis (fatty inflammation of liver)

Signs & symptoms

When the liver’s damage is mild, patients may feel no symptoms or experience mild discomfort in the upper abdomen. As fat continues to build up in the liver, more liver areas will become scarred, up to the point of liver failure (also called liver cirrhosis). Symptoms may include:
- Weakness and fatigue.
- Loss of appetite and weight loss.
- Yellow discoloration of the skin and the white part of the eye.
- Notable blood vessels under the skin.
- Itchy skin.
- Abdominal pain.
- Abdominal swelling.
- Legs swelling.
- Confusion and changes in consciousness.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by questioning and investigating the medical history and physical examination to provide additional information and exclude other diseases. Further tests include:
- Blood testing.
- Abdominal ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans.
- Liver biopsy – the optimal way of diagnosing the severity of liver diseases. Liver biopsy includes the insertion of a needle to the liver through the skin, and extraction of a small sample for microscopic inspection.

Treatment

Fatty liver disease is a chronic disease, and currently, there is no cure for this condition. Some life changes may be advisable to stop the liver’s deterioration, including limiting alcohol drinking, changing the diet, and losing weight. Severe diseases that reach liver failure may indicate a liver transplant – a surgical procedure where the diseased liver is removed, and a healthy liver from a donor is transplanted instead.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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