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Signs that you have a fatty liver

Signs that you have a fatty liver

The liver is known as the body’s powerhouse because it is involved in several metabolic activities and is the primary organ for digesting food and waste. However, a rising public health concern is fatty liver development, a condition characterized by excess fat accumulation in liver cells (hepatocytes). 

When fat cells make up more than 5% to 10% of the total weight of the liver, you have a fatty liver. Fatty liver can progress to irreversible stages of liver fibrosis, steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and cancer.

The incidence of fatty liver disease is increasing among adults, mainly due to poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles. Let us unravel the telltale signs of fatty liver (hepatic steatosis).


      1. Weakness and Fatigue: An early indicator of fatty liver is persistent weakness, fatigue, and malaise. As the liver strains to operate properly, it can cause fatigue and daytime drowsiness even after a full night’s sleep.

      1. Abdominal Discomfort: Individuals with fatty liver disease may experience pain or stiffness in the abdominal region. Abdominal discomfort could manifest as a feeling of fullness or a dull ache in the upper right abdominal region where the liver is situated. Patients may experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and intestinal bleeding. In addition, the liver and/or spleen may be enlarged.

      1. Unexplained weight loss or gain: Unexplained and sudden changes in weight, weight gain or loss, could indicate a fatty liver. When the liver is invaded by extra fat, it loses its ability to regulate metabolism.

      1. Jaundice: Jaundice, characterized by yellowing of the eyes and skin, might occur as a consequence of fatty liver disease. Jaundice develops when the liver is unable to handle bilirubin, a yellow pigment generated during red blood cell breakdown.

      1. Abnormal liver function tests: Routine blood tests may reveal elevated levels of liver enzymes, such as aspartate transaminase (AST) and alanine transaminase (ALT). When the liver is injured or inflamed, these enzymes are released into the bloodstream.

      1. Increase in Abdominal Girth: A notable increase in abdominal girth, referred to as “central obesity,” could indicate the accumulation of visceral fat. This kind of fat is especially dangerous since it covers internal organs such as the liver. Fatty liver is associated with hyperlipidemia, characterized by elevated serum triglyceride (TG) levels.

      1. Insulin Resistance and type 2 diabetes: Fatty liver disease is associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. If you are diabetic, it is important to monitor your liver health closely. Blood glucose control can improve liver health. Fatty liver is also associated with hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormones), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypogonadism (low levels of sex hormones), and hypopituitarism (low levels of pituitary gland hormones).

      1. Pale stools and dark urine: Color changes in the feces or urine suggest liver disease. Dark urine may suggest an overabundance of bilirubin, but light stools may indicate an insufficient amount of bilirubin reaching the intestines.

      1. Swelling in the Abdomen and Legs: Fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites) or legs (edema) may occur due to impaired liver function. This is usually a late-stage sign that needs prompt medical intervention.

      1. Mental Fog and Poor Concentration: The liver is important in blood cleansing, and when it is overburdened by extra fat, cognitive performance may suffer. Cognitive symptoms such as mental fog, confusion, and concentration difficulties could be early indicators of liver dysfunction.

      1. Skin changes: Easy bruising and itchy skin may also indicate fatty liver. You may have red palms and notice spider-like blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin.

    Final thoughts

    Early detection of fatty liver is critical to preventing the illness from progressing to later stages. If you see any of these symptoms, see a doctor for a complete examination. To improve liver health and even reverse fatty liver disease, adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains. 

    Limit your intake of alcohol and sugary drinks including sports drinks, soda, sweet tea, and juices, and maintain a healthy weight. In addition, be vaccinated against viral illnesses like hepatitis A and B, which can be deadly if you have liver problems.

    With proper care, you can help your liver perform optimally for a healthy future.


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