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Address: 27 Welbeck Street, London, W1G 8EN
Tel: 020 7101 3377

Discovering the Key Indicators of Liver Disease through Ultrasound

What to Know About Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver, also known as hepatic steatosis, occurs when excess fat accumulates in the liver. This condition can be divided into two main types: Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD), depending on the cause. NAFLD is more common in individuals who are obese or overweight, while ALD is directly related to excessive alcohol consumption.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

NAFLD is the most common form of chronic liver disease in the developed world, largely due to the rising prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. NAFLD encompasses a spectrum of liver conditions not related to alcohol use, ranging from simple fatty liver (steatosis) to Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), which involves inflammation and liver cell damage, potentially leading to fibrosis or cirrhosis.

Risk Factors

  • Obesity, particularly central obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome (includes hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and insulin resistance)
  • High intake of fructose
  • Certain genetic predispositions

Symptoms

NAFLD often presents with no symptoms, but some individuals may experience fatigue or discomfort in the upper right abdomen. It’s usually detected during routine blood tests or imaging studies done for other reasons.

Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD)

ALD results from excessive alcohol consumption and includes a spectrum of liver diseases such as alcoholic fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. The risk of developing ALD depends on the amount and duration of alcohol use, though individual susceptibility varies greatly.

Symptoms

Early stages of ALD might not cause symptoms, but as the condition progresses, symptoms can include weakness, weight loss, and jaundice. Severe ALD can lead to serious complications like liver failure and require urgent medical attention.

Diagnosis

Both NAFLD and ALD are diagnosed based on medical history, physical examination, blood tests, and imaging studies like ultrasound, which can detect fat in the liver. Additional tests, such as liver biopsy, might be needed to assess the severity of liver damage, especially for NAFLD to distinguish between simple fatty liver and NASH.

Treatment

  • Lifestyle Changes: The cornerstone of treatment for NAFLD and the early stages of ALD involves weight loss through diet and exercise. Even a modest weight loss of 5-10% can significantly reduce liver fat.
  • Limiting Alcohol: For ALD, abstaining from alcohol is crucial. For NAFLD, alcohol should be consumed in moderation, if at all.
  • Medications: There are no specific medications approved for NAFLD, but treating underlying conditions such as diabetes and hyperlipidemia is important. In the case of ALD, certain medications might be used to manage alcohol dependency and related complications.
  • Monitoring for Progression: Regular follow-up to monitor liver function and progression of liver disease is important for managing both NAFLD and ALD.

Prevention

Preventing fatty liver involves maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing chronic conditions like diabetes, and moderating alcohol consumption. Regular health check-ups can help detect changes in liver health early, allowing for timely intervention.

Understanding the impact of lifestyle choices on liver health is crucial. If you suspect you have risk factors for fatty liver, consult a healthcare provider for evaluation and personalized advice on managing your liver health.

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Address: 27 Welbeck Street, London, W1G 8EN

Telephone020 7101 3377