What You Should Know About Fatty Liver Disease At The Time Of Diagnosis
If you have just been diagnosed with fatty liver disease, dont panic. During these early stages, you are not facing an impending health crisis. Fatty liver means that fat particles have accumulated in your liver, and as an isolated condition, the fatty liver does not pose an immediate health risk.
At this point, medical interventions that directly target the liver are typically only available for very advanced cases of liver disease.
Even though there are virtually no medical options for treating fatty liver in the early stages of fatty liver disease- and even in later stages there are numerous diet and lifestyle changes that can support liver health, regeneration, and reversal of the disease. Its important to make these changes to prevent fatty liver disease from progressing to more serious, life-threatening diseases.
Lets take a look at the different stages of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
How Common Is This Condition
NAFLD affects up to 25% of people worldwide. Most people wont have symptoms, and some may never know they have the condition. But 2% to 5% of people will experience complications from the fat in their liver. When fat leads to inflammation and cell damage in your liver, its called steatohepatitis. The non-alcohol related version is called non-alcohol related steatohepatitis .
Are There Any Medications Available To Treat Fatty Liver
At this time, no medications currently exist to directly treat liver inflammation and damage associated with fatty liver disease. Medications that may be useful in managing fatty liver disease are primarily used to treat metabolic syndrome. Certain drugs, such as metformin and statins, can treat associated metabolic conditions such as insulin resistance and high cholesterol. Attenuating these associated conditions, combined with weight loss and an improved diet, can help reverse fatty liver disease.
Clinical trials have shown some promise in creating drugs designed to halt inflammatory damage when fatty liver disease has progressed to NASH. There is a wide variety of drugs that aim to prevent the progression of liver damage through targeted pharmacological interventions. Some drugs specifically aim to inhibit fibrosis, while others aim to inhibit hepatic fat accumulation. Other medications are specifically designed to calm liver inflammation or block the production of harmful compounds in the gut. By 2021, medications to treat fatty liver disease are predicted to be available by prescription.
Don’t Miss: How To Recolonize Gut Flora
Is It Bad To Have Fat Around Your Liver
Your liver is the second largest organ in your body. It helps process nutrients from food and drinks and filters harmful substances from your blood. Too much fat in your liver can cause liver inflammation, which can damage your liver and create scarring. In severe cases, this scarring can lead to liver failure.
Should I be worried about fatty liver?
Fatty liver disease is a condition to be serious about. If you are diagnosed, it is important to make lifestyle choices that will prevent the disease from progressing. Without following a healthy diet the disease will progress over time, ultimately resulting in severe liver disease.
Does liver disease shorten your life?
The liver is the second largest organ in the human body and one of the most important for human health. Cirrhosis puts both a persons liver and life at risk. Despite its severity, the condition is not rare.Life expectancy by stage.
Does fatty liver reduce life expectancy?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a common condition associated with obesity and heart disease long thought to undermine health and longevity. But a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests the condition does not affect survival.
How Long Can You Live With Non
Non-alcohol related fatty liver disease isnt life-threatening by itself. You may live the rest of your natural life without having any complications from it. It becomes more complicated for a small percentage of people when it turns to steatohepatitis , and especially when NASH progresses to cirrhosis. Research suggests that NAFLD overall may lower life expectancy by four years.
Also Check: How To Clean You Liver
Does Your Liver Regenerate And Is Fatty Liver Reversible
The liver is a remarkably adaptable organ that responds to environmental changes. In fact, the liver is the only organ that can regrow following injury. Both chemical or physical injury can lead to liver damage. The liver is responsible for processing all substances that enter the body, and excessive exposure to sugar, fats, alcohol, drugs, pollutants, or other substances sends your liver into overdrive. This may cause inflammation, cellular injury, and cell death. However, when the causal factors of liver damage are removed, hepatic tissue is resilient and cells can divide to produce new, healthy hepatic cells.
The good news is at nearly every stage of fatty liver disease, there are diet and lifestyle changes that help you reverse the damage and support liver regeneration. This is why a liver transplant is the last resort for liver failure treatment. Liver transplantation is intended to treat individuals whose livers have been damaged beyond repair.
Diagnosing Liver Disease And Hepatic Encephalopathy Life Expectancy
A severe case of hepatic encephalopathy indicates very advanced liver disease, end stage liver disease, or liver failure. The exact life expectancy and prognosis of liver disease and hepatic encephalopathy is best determined by your doctor. The presence of hepatic encephalopathy is a marker used in the Child-Pugh system and the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease, which helps doctors assess how advanced liver disease is and the prognosis for your specific case of liver disease.
The Child-Pugh system evaluates five factors: bilirubin levels, albumin levels, blood clotting time, ascites symptoms, and the presence of hepatic encephalopathy. Your Child-Pugh score then places you in a specific class based on the extent of liver damage.
The model for end-stage liver disease score measures bilirubin levels, creatinine levels, and sodium levels. A higher MELD score is associated with more progressed liver damage.
Chronic liver disease may also be diagnosed using imaging techniques such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging scans, and computed tomography scans. These scans reveal abnormalities in the liver and detect liver conditions like cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and inflammation. Blood tests can evaluate levels of ammonia, albumin, and liver enzymes.
You May Like: How Do You Flush Out Your Gallbladder
Life Expectancy As Per Overall Outlook
For many people, the fatty liver does not result in any severe problem. The liver may repair on its own to some extent. In this situation, following a healthy lifestyle is essential. However, if your condition of the nonalcoholic fatty liver increases consistently and if you continue to experience overweight problems, you would likely face many complications very soon.
Even though a simple form of the fatty liver does not cause any problem, without proper care or preventative steps, you may develop nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Furthermore, approximately 10percent to 25percent of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis develop the problem of cirrhosis within only 10years. Other than this, the problem of the fatty liver may result in cardiovascular problems and chronic kidney diseases, along with other severe health conditions.
On the other side, if you make the doctors recommended lifestyle changes, such as regular physical exercise and following a balanced diet early, you will preserve your good health for many years. Besides, you may reverse your liver damage even during the initial stages of your nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Even if you do not experience any symptoms associated with liver scarring , you should start following a healthy lifestyle. Besides, you should take steps to reduce your risks with regular blood tests and liver enzyme tests.
What Causes A Fatty Liver In A Non
The answer to this is not yet entirely clear. But researchers suspect several factors at work, including:
- Metabolic syndrome. Non-alcohol related fatty liver disease seems to be linked to a group of related metabolic disorders involving high BMI, high blood lipid levels, high blood pressure and diabetes. These factors seem to influence each other and lead to collective changes in how your body metabolizes nutrients and stores fats.
- Diet and nutritional causes. Researchers have also found that a diet high in fructose may increase your risk of developing NAFLD. Fructose is one of the ingredients in common table sugar and is the dominant ingredient in high fructose corn syrup, a common sweetener. Its highly linked to metabolic syndrome.
- Genetics. Certain genes may make you more likely to develop NAFLD. This may help explain why some people get it without any of the other common risk factors. It may also help explain why people of certain races seem to get it more often.
Also Check: Best Digestive Enzymes For No Gallbladder
Alcohol And The Liver
With the exception of the brain, the liver is the most complex organ in the body. Its functions include:
- filtering toxins from the blood
- aiding digestion of food
- regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- helping fight infection and disease
The liver is very resilient and capable of regenerating itself. Each time your liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die.
The liver can develop new cells, but prolonged alcohol misuse over many years can reduce its ability to regenerate. This can result in serious and permanent damage to your liver.
ARLD is very common in the UK the number of people with the condition has been increasing over the last few decades as a result of increasing levels of alcohol misuse.
Read more about the causes of ARLD.
Definitions: What Is Fatty Liver
Nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases is subdivided into the nonalcoholic fatty liver and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
NAFLD = NAFL + NASH.
- NAFL : refers to the accumulation of the fat in the liver without inflammation.
- NASH : refers to the accumulation of fat inside the liver with subsequent liver inflammation.
Don’t Miss: What Causes Liver Failure In Cats
The Rising Tide Of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Liver disease? Me? I dont drink. I dont smoke. Okay, so I dont exercise that much, and where did all these candy bar wrappers come from?
Anyway, I thought liver disease was just for alcoholics?
These are question many Americans ask when diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. But as its name implies, NAFLD is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions in people who drink little or no alcohol. In NAFLD, excess fat is stored in the liver, and can lead to inflammation, scarring and potentially liver failure.
NAFLD is a significant and growing public health issue, but until now, we didnt have a good handle on just how big this wave has grown.
Recently, Alina Allen, M.D., a gastroenterologist and population health researcher at Mayo Clinic, and colleagues, published a paper describing the incidence, as well as the life and death implications of this type of liver disease.
The researchers used the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a collaboration of clinics, hospitals, and other medical and dental facilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin that links together the medical and the dental records for people who have agreed to share their health history for the purpose of research.
The team showed that five times as many people have this type of liver disease now, as compared to 1997.
Alina Allen, M.D.
Dr. Allen also noted:
Weight loss would help with those other conditions too, she notes.
Early Stages: Nonalcoholic Hepatic Steatosis
Hepatic steatosis is the scientific term that describes the buildup of fat in the liver. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic hepatic steatosis are synonymous terms for describing the same condition. NAFLD is an extremely common condition around the globe, and in North America, fatty liver disease is estimated to affect up to a third of the population. At the early stages, there are usually no symptoms.
Don’t Miss: Prognosis End Stage Liver Disease
What In The World Is Liver Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis of the liver involves heavy scarring of the vital organ. The four stages of the serious disease include:
- Stage 1: Inflammation
- Stage 3: Cirrhosis
- Stage 4: Liver Failure
Before patients actually get the fatty liver disease theyll experience something called fatty liver. This is quite common. In fact, its estimated up to 100% of heavy alcohol drinkers have this condition. However, if fat buildup in the liver continues it develops into FLD.
Many liver disease patients also get something called Liver Hepatitis. This technically isnt a stage of the disease because some people go from FLD to cirrhosis. So its better to talk about the amount of scarring that takes place.
Theres a difference between Stage 1, which is basically a severe case of fatty liver. However, its quite a different story when the liver starts experiencing fibrosis/scarring. This is the bodys way of protecting itself. Its sort of like natural skin tanning, which helps to prevent sunburns and skin cancer over time.
However, theres a big difference between Stage 2 and Stage 3 of liver disease. If you develop cirrhosis it involves major damage to the liver. The main difference is liver function is affected. There are various causes of cirrhosis. Its often linked to heavy drinking, although there are other causes including Hepatitis and others.
Maintain A Healthy Diet
This is something you should consider anyway. However, its especially critical if you have liver cirrhosis. One of the main symptoms of heavy drinking is malnutrition. A healthy plant-based diet with lots of fruits/vegetables can help to deal with the condition.
There are other steps you can take. They include eating lean fish/chicken and avoiding all raw seafood. There are also high-protein plant-based options and especially beans. Soybeans are one of the only plant-based complete proteins. In other words, they have all 9 essential amino acids needed daily.
Recommended Reading: Liver Transplant From Living Donor
What Is Alcoholic Liver Cirrhosis
The liver is one of the largest human organs with many key functions. For example, it breaks down proteins, filters blood toxins, and makes bile so the body can absorb fat. However, when a person is a heavy alcohol drinker this starts affecting the liver.
Its believed that up to 100% of heavy drinkers have the condition known as fatty liver. This can develop into fatty liver disease over time. If the damage continues then scar tissue starts to replace healthy liver tissue. This is known as alcoholic liver cirrhosis .
The American Liver Foundation reports that up to 20% of heavy alcohol drinks will develop cirrhosis over time. This is the most advanced type of disease thats linked to alcohol consumption. This disease might start as fatty liver disease but can develop into alcoholic hepatitis.
Then within time, the condition can develop into alcoholic cirrhosis. Its even possible for the disease to develop quickly from FLD to alcoholic cirrhosis without the patient experiencing alcoholic hepatitis.
The symptoms of ALC usually start when a person is between 30 to 40 years old. The body can deal with limited liver function during the diseases early stages. However, as the disease worsens the symptoms become easier to notice.
The symptoms are quite similar to other alcohol-related liver disorders. Some examples include:
- High blood pressure
Life Expectancy By Stage
There are two stages in cirrhosis: compensated and decompensated.
Compensated cirrhosis: People with compensated cirrhosis do not show symptoms, while life expectancy is around 912 years. A person can remain asymptomatic for years, although 57% of those with the condition will develop symptoms every year.
People with decompensated cirrhosis already experience symptoms and complications. Their life expectancy is greatly reduced than those with compensated cirrhosis, while experts recommend referral for a possible liver transplant in these cases.
Physicians use diagnostic tests and scoring to determine a persons stage of cirrhosis, which will help project their life expectancy. The Child-Turcotte-Pugh system awards points based on whether an individual has:
- an abnormal build-up of fluid in the abdomen, and how it responds to treatment
- dysfunction in the brain
- normal levels of albumin, a protein made by the liver
- high levels of bilirubin, which could mean the liver is not working properly
- normal blood clotting time, or international normalized ratio
With the CTP system, a persons score increases according to the number and severity of their symptoms. Based on these scores, the system assigns people into different classes:
- Class A: 56 points
- Class B: 79 points
- Class C: 1015 points
Healthcare professionals will project the life expectancy of people with cirrhosis using CTP scores in the following chart:
Recommended Reading: Stomach Pain Only At Night
What Are The Symptoms Of Non
People typically dont experience symptoms until NAFLD progresses to NASH . With NASH, you may begin to have symptoms of inflammation, such as pain and swelling in your upper right abdomen, where your liver is. But you may not notice symptoms until NASH has progressed to more severe liver damage. NAFLD merely lays the groundwork.
Stick To Natural Whole Plant
This means eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. These foods contain loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can reduce liver inflammation and promote liver repair. Plant-based foods are also rich in fiber and prebiotics that support healthy bacteria in your gut that can influence liver health.
You May Like: Cat Liver Disease Home Treatment
Population And Case Finding
In this retrospective study, a search was undertaken in a computerized diagnoses database from 1984 to 2009, in the Department of Pathology at the National University Hospital of Iceland and identified all liver biopsies analysed and registrated in the SNOMED coding-system, T-56000 and the M-50080 as having fatty change. The SNOMED is a coding system used in the pathology laboratories in Iceland to specify: Procedure, Topography, Morphology, Disease and Etiology. This is a very valuable coding system for retrieving data and pathology reports from past years, like biopsies of the liver showing fatty change .
The catchment area of the NUH covers > 95% of the population in Iceland.