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What is Fatty Liver and Are You at Risk?

By Dr. (Col) V K Gupta in Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Endoscopy

Jan 24 , 2018 | 2 min read

The liver is located on the upper-right side of your abdomen and is one of the largest internal organs in your body. Its job is to remove toxins and to process food nutrients.  In addition to this, your liver filters your blood, cleaning it before it travels anywhere else. Fatty Liver Disease is a condition in which fat builds up inside of your liver. Here, we explore some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the various types of Fatty Liver Disease.

What is Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is the result of excessive drinking of alcohol. Your liver breaks down most of the alcohol that you drink, but in the process, it gets damaged. The more alcohol you drink, the more damaged your liver becomes. Alcoholic Fatty liver is the earliest stage of other alcohol-related liver diseases. In a handful of patients, this can lead to alcoholic hepatitis and even cirrhosis of the liver.

What is Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is not related to alcohol. A person is said to have Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease if 10% or more of their liver’s weight is fat. Though doctors do not know the exact cause of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, they know that it’s most common in obese middle-aged people and diabetics.

What are the symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease?

Both alcoholic and nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Diseases are ‘silent’ sicknesses; normally they don’t exhibit any symptoms. The few symptoms that are reported are a slight discomfort in the upper right abdomen and a feeling of fatigue. Because of the lack of symptoms, it’s not easy to diagnose a Fatty Liver Disease.

How can I check if I have Fatty Liver Disease?

Up until recently, the only way of diagnosing liver disease was through a biopsy. In a biopsy, the doctor would remove a small piece of your liver for lab analysis. Not only is this procedure costly, but the recovery time is lengthy. However, it is possible to get a non-invasive liver scan done using the Fibroscan machine.

What is Fibroscan?

Fibroscan works like an ultrasound machine It sends sound waves through a probe and analyzes their reflections to detect the amount of fat and scarring present in the liver. A Fibroscan has been shown to be just as accurate as a liver biopsy.

Though Fatty Liver Disease has the potential to become serious, a lot of the time it is reversible. If the patient follows a balanced diet and begins exercising, it is possible to reverse the damage. By increasing your physical activity and consulting regularly with a liver specialist, you stand a good chance of helping your liver recover.