Fatty Liver Can Be A Silent Killer
The liver can be called the second largest solid organ in one’s body. Proper functioning of the liver is essential for your overall well-being. Fatty liver is also known as a ‘silent killer,’ as there are only a few signs of it and these cannot be diagnosed easily. It can be termed as a silent killer because most of the patients may tend to experience no symptoms, owing to which they will be unaware of their condition. In such a situation, one may only be diagnosed when he/she visits the doctor. 10-20 percent of people suffering from fatty liver may get hepatitis, which may further put them at the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
From the new data presented during the International Liver Congress 2019, we see that 1 in 5 young adults show signs of fatty liver. Young adults in the age group of 24 years showed a high prevalence of the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, with progression increasing with age even in this small birth cohort. Dr. Roy Patankar, leading Gastroenterologist & Director of Zen Hospital explains why Fatty liver is called a silent killer.
Fatty liver, also known as hepatic steatosis, can be described as the build-up of fat in one’s liver. It is normal to have small amounts of fat in your liver, but too much of fat deposition in your liver can be harmful. It can lead to serious health issues which can be life-threatening. One may suffer from it owing to heavy drinking. Hence, as time passes, too much alcohol consumption can cause a build-up of fat inside your liver cells. This can give a tough time to your liver, and it won’t be able to function properly. You can also get it even if you don’t drink alcohol.
Fatty liver can be classified into two categories- Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (termed as the first stage of liver damage caused by alcohol abuse) and Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (described as the build-up of extra fat in one’s liver cells which is not caused by alcohol. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat. Moreover, if more than 5% – 10% percent of the liver’s weight is fat, then it is known as a fatty liver (steatosis).
There are no symptoms typically tied to Fatty Liver. On its occurrence, one may feel fatigued or experience abdominal discomfort as well. Moreover, your liver might appear slightly enlarged, and this can be detected by your doctor. Hence, experts advise people to immediately seek medical attention. Once your liver becomes inflamed, you may exhibit symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue, weakness, confusion, along with weight loss. If your fatty liver progresses to cirrhosis and liver failure, then, you may also show symptoms like an enlarging, fluid-filled abdomen, you may also get jaundice of the skin and eyes and abnormal bleeding.
Early diagnosis is a must.
People following hectic lifestyles, with poor eating habits and those not taking enough amounts of rest are subjected to liver-related problems. People should go for regular check-ups and follow-ups and see to it that they monitor the functions of their body. Any irregularity spotted should be immediately discussed with the expert. In some cases, your doctor may advise you to go for imaging tests, like those that check for fat in one’s liver and the stiffness of it as well. Liver stiffness can also mean fibrosis, which can be called as scarring of the liver. Not only this, but some people may also have to undergo a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. With the help of early diagnosis and follow-ups, one will be able to avoid permanent damage to the liver.
• Opt for a well-balanced diet: One should make sure that he/she includes fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet. Cut down on the intake of carbohydrates, fats, and sugar. Alcohol, junk, processed and spicy foods are a strict no-no.
• One should also avoid a sedentary lifestyle and stay physically active: In case you are overweight, then cut down those excess kilos by exercising regularly. You can opt for activities like walking, swimming, running, and aerobics. Also, don’t forget to go for check-ups.
• Undergoing a Liver Function Test and checking for other factors will allow you to tackle fatty liver at the right time.
• Avoid over-the-counter (OTC) products: Don't self-medicate, as doing so can be harmful to you.