What everyone should know about fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver disease is common in Western countries, affecting between 10 and 30 per cent of the population, and is more common than diabetes and arthritis combined, according to WebMD.
The liver filters blood from the digestive system, removing toxins and helping to process nutrients. According to Better Health Channel, if more than 10 per cent of the liver’s weight is comprised of fat, you have fatty liver disease.
It can lead to a number of serious health concerns, such as the inflammation of the liver, known as steatohepatitis, which causes liver damage. Steatohepatitis can cause the liver to harden and scar, a condition known as cirrhosis, which may lead to liver failure.
People who have diabetes, elevated triglyceride (body fat) levels, have suddenly lost weight, are overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing fatty liver disease. If you have a body mass index of 25-30 you are considered overweight, or obese if you have a body mass index greater than 30. You can calculate your own BMI here to help assess your risk.
Fatty liver disease may be doing you damage in the absence of symptoms, making it hard to diagnose. If steatohepatitis is allowed to worsen you may experience abdominal discomfort, fatigue, weight loss, weakness, nausea, jaundice, vomiting or confusion.
The only way to know if you have fatty liver disease is to get a diagnosis from a medical professional. He or she may run a series of tests, including blood tests, a CT scan, MRI or an ultrasound.
While there is currently no medical treatment for fatty liver disease, lifestyle changes can help to manage or prevent the condition. Eating a healthy diet, limiting your alcohol intake, exercising, losing excess weight and managing pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or high triglyceride levels, can help to lower your risk.
If you think you are at risk, or may already have fatty liver disease, consult your GP.
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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.
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