Fatty Liver

liver-2934612_1280So what does “fatty liver” exactly mean?  Doesn’t sound too harmful at first.  We have fat deposits all over the body.  However, fat deposits on organs that keep your body functioning is NOT a good thing!

There is Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease or NAFLD.  More than 10% of your liver is fat.  There is Alcoholic Fatty Liver (ALD).  Similar to NAFLD but brought about by heavy drinking.  You can reverse these unless it has lead to cirrhosis of the liver.  Cirrhosis is incurable and has a host of causes including fatty liver diseases, hepatitis B & C and heavy drinking. There is also Acute Fatty Liver in Pregnancy which is rare and life threatening in the third trimester.

A severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (or NASH) and is like the damage heavy alcohol use can do to your liver and can lead to irreversible damage, scarring and progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.  Liver failure means a transplant is your only option to continue living.  Scary right?  It should be!

Fatty liver often happens with the combination of being overweight or obese, have high blood sugar, have high fats (triglycerides) in your blood and your insulin are not working with your cells to utilize sugar properly.  Type 2 Diabetes often increases chances of having a fatty liver.  Insulin resistance is definitely linked to having a fatty liver. Sometimes this all progresses to NASH, but not always.

So how do you know you have a fatty liver?  Your doctor has to diagnose it. There are blood and other tests that they will perform. Usually there are no signs or symptoms.  However, you may have an enlarged liver, pain in that area and be fatigued. (NASH has a whole other set of symptoms that are quite visible, particularly jaundice.  ALWAYS see your doctor if the whites of your eyes or your skin is yellowish.)

The thing is, you can DO something to sometimes reverse this or at the very least lessen its affects. Okay, maybe your genetics plays a small or large hand in this, but you CAN reduce your weight, sugar and blood fats through diet and exercise leading to better managed diabetes and fatty liver.  Aim to reduce your weight by at least 10%.  Don’t let this progress to liver failure!

For more information, follow this link:
Mayo Clinic – Fatty Liver (non-alcoholic)

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