Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as steatosis, are simply the accumulation of fatty tissue in the liver, but not due to excessive drinking. About five percent of individuals in the U.S. have a more advanced form of fatty liver known as fatty steatohepatitis.
The condition may detected through blood tests or ultrasound scanning, but a liver biopsy is the definitive diagnosis for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, where a physician can review your history and determine if you do indeed have a fatty liver. Biopsies taken from selected fatty tissues of the liver show details about the disease process. The liver biopsy is done under general anesthesia and generally reveals inflammatory changes. The liver can develop blood clots that are filled with cholesterol (cholesterol cells) and fluid, which can be quite large in quantity and cause liver failure.
Fatty liver, as with most disorders of the body, is caused by many contributing factors. Genetics play an important role, as does your physical condition, the health of your organs and the conditions you encounter throughout your life. One common nonalcoholic fatty liver disease symptom is jaundice, where you lose yellowish or brownish discoloration of the skin and sometimes also vision. This symptom typically occurs in children. Jaundice can cause serious liver damage and may even require surgery to remove all the cells.
In the United States, obesity is becoming an increasing problem. Obesity is one of the major causes of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in the United States. Overweight individuals, especially those who are not active, consume more calories than they expend. Because of this, they generally suffer from chronic fatigue. Some evidence suggests that even those who are moderately overweight may be at increased risk of developing cirrhosis and other serious health problems.
The second most common nonalcoholic fatty liver disease symptom is high blood pressure. The majority of patients with this disease have normal cholesterol levels. However, when the level is too high or has been increased too much over a period of time, it can affect the functioning of the liver. High cholesterol levels increase fatty deposits within the cells. High blood pressure raises the sodium concentration in your blood, causing inflammation of the linings of the arteries, which can lead to damage to the liver cells.
So scientists believe that there are two primary risk factors for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity and diabetes. Both obesity and diabetes increase the risk of fibrosis and scarring within the liver cells. Obesity is usually a genetic disorder, but can also be caused by poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyle. Scientists believe that nonalcoholic steatohepatitis may be aggravated by obesity and certain risk factors.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver has been shown to be a common complication of diabetes and its risk factors have been identified through studies. Those with diabetes have been found to produce more cytokines, which are harmful to the liver cells. In addition, obesity increases the risk factors for fatty livers. Obese people are more likely to have conditions like hyperlipidemia, which can cause fibrosis within the livers. People who smoke or have a family history of fatty livers are at a higher risk of developing fibrosis.
Fibrosis in liver cells is a serious condition and if it is not treated, it can spread to other parts of the body and even to the brain. Fibrosis can be treated with surgery, medicines, or a combination of both. If you are suffering from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, it is important to make lifestyle changes and make sure that you include a healthy diet. By making simple lifestyle changes, you can control your condition and reduce the risk factors for liver diseases.