Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease on the rise post Covid, say doctors

Doctors have advised lifestyle changes to reverse fatty liver, and it can be completely reversed if diagnosed early.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease on the rise post Covid, say doctors

TIRUCHY: Detoxifying the body is the key to staying healthy and the liver, a large metabolic organ, plays a central role in the process. On the occasion of World Liver Day observed on April 19, spreading awareness about liver diseases and its prevention becomes a priority. A majority of liver diseases are preventable.

According to doctors, the work from home condition and lack of movement during lockdowns have increased liver-related diseases. Doctors at Mahatma Gandhi Government Hospital, Tiruchy, said the most commonly occurring liver disease, after alcohol-related disease, is fatty liver, especially non-alcoholic. A total of 40% of patients are diagnosed with this kind of liver disease.

Dr M Malarvizhi of the Department of Medical Gastroenterology, MGMGH, said, "A decade ago, we hardly used to see cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. One out of 10 cases would be fatty liver. Now, four to five out of 10 cases are related to fatty liver. We have seen a steep rise in cases in the past few years, especially during and post pandemic, as most people were working from home. We see rise in cases due to this sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits. Obesity, diabetes, dyslipidemia are the leading causes."

Doctors also said non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has become a serious concern, and is an independent risk factor for cardiac disease.

Dr Joy Varghese, Director, Hepatology, Gleneagles Global Health City, said, "Almost one person in every family is affected by fatty liver today. Just like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cholesterol, it has become an independent risk factor for cardiac diseases and a serious concern worldwide. Cardiac issues
due to fatty liver is my major concern, as ultrasound detects it among many patients, especially younger ones."

Fatty liver can be detected early and cured completely, according to doctors. However, liver diseases don't show symptoms in the initial stages.

Speaking about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Dr Malarvizhi said, "A simple check-up can detect liver problems, and persons with a family history or diabetes or obesity, must go for regular check-ups. We are seeing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in many adolescents too. A basic ultrasound or liver function test is enough. The reason for this disease is an imbalance between anti oxidants, and a micro-nutrient imbalance. Junk food consumption has more chances of developing nutrient deficiency. Some drugs taken for weight loss, over the counter medications for hair, skin, especially in adolescents, too, leads to liver disease."

Dr SNK Chenduran, consultant gastroenterologist, Apollo Specialty Hospitals, said post-Covid Cholangiopathy is a liver disease caused by the virus. "We witnessed a few cases of unexplained liver disease in Covid-19 patients two to three months after recovery. This was then identified as Covid-induced
Cholangiopathy, as proven by studies. Covid-19 not only affected the respiratory system but also the liver," he said.

Doctors have advised lifestyle changes to reverse fatty liver, and it can be completely reversed if diagnosed early. If at risk, regular master health check-ups have been advised post 40 or early.

"Liver is an organ of regeneration. It recuperates from injury faster and regenerates on its own. A healthy lifestyle, good food habits, avoiding alcohol and unnecessary drugs, control of diabetes, preventing virus-related liver diseases by vaccination are the key to a healthy liver," said Dr K Vanitha, Dean,

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