Can Fatty Liver Disease Be Treated?


Your liver is the second largest organ in your body and performs multiple essential functions, like producing bile, processing glucose, and filtering blood. Long-term damage to this organ might lead to liver cirrhosis, a medical problem where fibrotic tissue takes over healthy areas of tissue in your liver. Several health conditions and liver diseases might cause cirrhosis, or severe scarring, of the liver. One such health concern, known as fatty liver disease, impacts approximately one in four people nationwide and is increasing in prevalence.

Between 20 – 40% of patients in the U.S. are diagnosed with a fatty liver. In the event that you or someone you love could be at risk for getting fatty liver disease, a diagnosis could help set you on the path to treating this buildup and improving your health. A gastrointestinal (GI) doctor is a specialist who can diagnose and treat fatty liver disease. Get in touch with a digestive health doctor at Adult Gastroenterology Associates in Tulsa, OK to further explore this serious yet often avoidable condition.

What do I need to know about fatty liver disease?

A fatty liver condition is described as having too much fat in the liver. Although a small amount of fat in the liver is normal, fat formation of over 5% may end up causing advanced scarring and liver inflammation, the medical term for which is hepatic steatosis. The two primary forms of fatty liver disease are referred to as AFLD (alcoholic fatty liver disease) and NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).

Common causes of fatty liver

Drinking alcohol in excess might create an overabundance of fat in the liver. When this occurrence causes inflammation or scar tissue, it's typically diagnosed as alcoholic steatohepatitis. For patients who drink zero to minor amounts of alcohol, the common risk factors for NAFLD are:

  • High cholesterol

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

  • Adult-onset diabetes

  • Being overweight

When this liver condition progresses to swelling and injury to the cells in the liver, it's termed nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is on course to bypass hepatitis C as the leading cause for liver transplants in the United States.

How can I identify the signs of a fatty liver?

Typically, a patient with fatty liver disease is unlikely to present any apparent signs. If symptoms are evident, however, it could be because there is a significant injury to the liver. Such symptoms can include:

  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin

  • Upset stomach

  • Swollen abdomen and ankles

  • Exhaustion

  • Bowel movement changes

  • Dark urine

If you or a loved one is exhibiting these signs or symptoms, get in touch with Adult Gastroenterology Associates in Tulsa, OK so that a gastrointestinal doctor can evaluate your condition. When left untreated, fatty liver disease can progress to cirrhosis, which could manifest with other health concerns, including ascites (fluid buildup in the stomach), swollen blood vessels in the esophagus, hepatic encephalopathy (a decline in brain function due to liver disease), cancer of the liver, and finally, liver failure.

Can hepatic steatosis be treated?

The recommended methods of treating a fatty liver condition frequently include lifestyle changes. Patients who have AFLD should avoid consuming alcohol, which could prevent the worsening of fatty liver disease. Avoiding alcohol is also suggested when an individual's fatty liver condition is not alcohol-related. For NAFLD, dropping 10% of your total body mass might considerably improve the amount of fat in your liver. Consistent aerobic exercise can also lessen fat in the organ. A healthy nutrition plan may help control conditions that are precursors for a fatty liver condition, such as type 2 diabetes and elevated cholesterol, lowering the fat level and improving your liver health.

Find treatment for fatty liver disease in Tulsa, OK

Fatty liver disease can progress to damaging fibrotic tissue and the chance of liver failure without proper care. In the event that you or a loved one notices signs of fat in the liver, contact Adult Gastroenterology Associates in Tulsa, OK to get information on the methods used to address this illness. Adult Gastroenterology Associates features an experienced group of GI specialists who place the health and needs of their patients above all else.