Fatty Liver- A Silent Killer

Liver is the second largest organ in the body which produces bile and helps to process the nutrients from food and drinks, further it filters the harmful substances from the food. Liver also helps to resist the infections by removing toxins and bacteria from the blood.

There is a modest amount of fat in a healthy liver. When fat equals 5% to 10% of your liver's weight, it becomes an issue. Steatosis, also known as fatty liver disease, is a common disorder brought about by an accumulation of too much fat in the liver.

Fatty Liver condition isn’t bad until and unless the condition becomes worse and reaches the stage when there is inflammation in the liver (steatohepatitis) along with the extensive damage of liver tissues (cirrhosis). The liver's function starts slowing down by the tough scar tissue that has replaced the healthy liver tissue and eventually the functioning of the liver completely stops. Severe cirrhosis can lead to Liver failure and Liver cancer.

Stages of Fatty Liver-

  1. Normal Fatty Liver- excess fat accumulation in the liver due to higher levels of cholesterol. This condition is also known as Simple Fatty Liver.
  2. Steatohepatitis- this occurs when along with the fat accumulation in the liver leads to inflammation. This condition is a bit severe than the previous one.
  3. Fibrosis- Along with the inflammation, slowly scarring and damage of the liver tissues occur. In this condition, the liver still functions normally.
  4. Cirrhosis- This is the most severe and irreversible condition where the scarring of liver tissues starts affecting the liver functions.

What are the causes? –

  1. Due to bad lifestyle such as extreme junk food consumption rich in cholesterol at regular basis, skipping meals or eating irregularly, severe consumption of alcohols and smoking etc.
  2. Overweight and obesity
  3. Due to physical and mental stress
  4. Self- medication like regular intake of NSAIDs to relieve the chronic pain
  5. Bile reflux- It is a reflowing action when the bile bypasses the small intestine and instead rushes back into the stomach.

What are the common symptoms observed?-

  1. Abdominal pain especially in the upper right side of the abdomen.
  2. Nausea
  3. Edema- Swollen abdomen and legs.
  4. Bloating
  5. Loss of appetite.
  6. Jaundice- Yellowish skin and white portion of the eyes.
  7. Unexplained weight loss
  8. Fatigue

What are the Diagnostic tests and Treatments available?-

  1. Pathological examinations such Blood tests and urine culture.
  2. Upper Gastrointestinal tract endoscopy- An endoscope is a lengthy, thin tube with a camera attached inserted from the mouth and passes through the food pipe and gives the images till the upper part of the small intestine.
  3. Upper abdomen ultrasonography or CT Scan to check the possibility of epigastric hernia or suspicion of any abnormality in the digestive tract.
  4. Liver biopsy- this is done by collection of the liver tissue samples to check the progression of the disease.
  5. FibroScan- this is a more advanced and specialized ultrasound which is done instead of liver biopsy and tells the total amount of fat accumulation in the liver and finds out the scarred liver tissues.
  6. Medications as prescribed by the medical practitioner.

What is FibroScan?

Transient elastography, another name for fibroscan, gauges the velocity of ultrasound waves as they pass through the liver. The normal liver tissue and the areas of fibrosis are both viewed by the ultrasound waves' varying velocity. FibroScan results are available right away after the scan. It is a non- invasive test and used to determine the degree of fibrosis in the liver. This is even done to assess the health of the liver.

Prevention and Control-

  1. Avoid consumption of oily, fried and spicy foods.
  2. Consuming a number of little meals throughout the day.
  3. Reduction of alcohol consumption and caffeine.
  4. Management of stress.
  5. Avoid resting down for two to three hours immediately after a meal.

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