Fatty liver disease is not a drinker’s problem alone

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common type of fatty liver disease and is caused by excessive alcohol intake.
Fatty liver disease is not a drinker’s problem alone
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KOCHI: If you are thinking only heavy drinkers can get liver disease, then think again. Fatty liver can be caused by obesity and high blood pressure.

The second-largest organ in the human body, the liver performs over 500 vital body functions, including filtering out blood toxins and processing food nutrients. Too much fat accumulation in the liver impairs its functions and can pave the way for many problems.

Two types

There are two types of fatty liver diseases: non-alcoholic and alcoholic.

Non-alcoholic disease is the most common type. While the simple fatty disease is without any inflammation or complications, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis may progress to cirrhosis, which causes permanent scarring and hardening of the liver.

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common type and is caused by excessive alcohol intake. Abstaining from alcohol can help the liver heal, allowing the individual to return to a normal life.

Symptoms

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can happen without noticeable symptoms. However, in some cases, it can lead to tiredness or pain in the upper right side of the belly, where the liver is; sudden weight loss, and more. In the case of alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis can cause a swelling of the liver resulting in fever, nausea, fatigue and weight loss. Jaundice too is a symptom. However, consulting a doctor is crucial.

Diagnosis

Health history and tests are needed to diagnose them: Liver tests to detect and monitor liver damage, tests to analyse blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides, and fibrosis assessment tests to estimate the level of liver scarring.

Treatment

It can be controlled by adapting a healthy lifestyle: Following a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting processed foods, saturated fats, and added sugars; and regular exercises.

While it is treatable in early stages, abstaining from alcohol and nutritional support can aid in the case of alcoholic fatty liver disease. In the most severe cases, a liver transplant is the only cure.

Mind and Body

Got health concerns you want to share with a doctor? Are you looking for credible answers regarding symptoms, medicines or lifestyle disorders? Write to us on cityexpresskoc@newindianexpress.com, and we will get healthcare professionals to answer them.

(The writer is a consultant with Aster Medcity, Kochi)

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