Fatty Liver refers to the build-up of fat in the cells of the liver. Unlike what many believe, eating fatty foods does not lead to this accumulation of fat in the liver. The liver plays a key role in the normal metabolism of the body, which includes the breakdown of fats, and when there is some disruption to this normal metabolic process, fats may accumulate in the liver cells.
What Causes Fatty Liver
Fatty liver is most commonly associated with metabolic syndrome (diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and obesity) as well as excessive alcohol intake. Other conditions listed below may also result in the development of fatty liver (by no means an exhaustive list):
• Glycogen storage disease
• Acute fatty liver of pregnancy
• Severe weight loss
• Gastric bypass surgery
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Certain medication e.g. methotrexate, tamoxifen, amiodarone
What are the Symptoms of Fatty Liver?
There are usually no symptoms. Fatty liver is most commonly detected through routine screening, where a slightly enlarged liver may be found on physical examination, or there may be raised liver enzymes. An ultrasound examination may show fatty build-up in the liver.
How is Fatty Liver Diagnosed?
Fatty liver is usually diagnosed on ultrasound examination of the liver. Sometimes doctors perform a liver biopsy where there is a need for histological assessment of the condition.
Treatment of fatty liver would largely depend on what is causing it. This may include weight loss, treatment of hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia and diabetes, or stopping the offending medication. Treatment of the underlying cause will generally reverse the fat build-up in the liver cells.
The article above is meant to provide general information and does not replace a doctor's consultation.
Please see your doctor for professional advice.