Hepatic steatosis also commonly called Fatty liver is a condition where there is presence of excess fat within the liver cells. Fatty liver can be reversed by lifestyle modifications and does not cause permanent damage if reversed. However long standing fatty liver impairs the normal functioning of the liver and can also lead to permanent scarring and cirrhosis.
Fatty liver occurs in 10 to 20 per cent of the population especially between the ages of 40 and 60. Many a time’s fatty liver may be asymptomatic and may be detected only on routine examination or ultrasound. However, sometimes the patient may have symptoms such as loss of appetite, loss of weight, abdominal pain and fatigue.
The commonest cause of fatty liver is regular alcohol consumption and heavy drinking. Besides alcoholism, causes of fatty liver are diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidaemia, or high levels of lipids in the blood. Sometimes fatty liver also occurs due to toxic effect of some medications, such as aspirin, steroids, tamoxifen and tetracycline.
Hence depending on the cause fatty liver can be divided into non-alcoholic and alcoholic fatty liver.
Diagnosis of fatty liver can be made when liver function tests show a raised level of liver enzymes. This is further confirmed by ultrasound of the liver. In most cases liver biopsy is not indicated, however the diagnosis can be finally confirmed by needle biopsy in some cases.
If fatty livers not reversed, it progresses into liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. In alcoholic fatty liver, not ceasing to drink alcohol leads to cirrhosis and liver failure .Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease also leads to scarring and cirrhosis. However lifestyle changes can reverse the changes and reduce the occurrence of fibrosis and scarring.
Once, fatty liver progresses to cirrhosis and liver failure, the survival rate is reduced to approximately two years.
Fatty Liver and the complications can easily be prevented by controlling the consumption and quantity of alcohol. It is important to maintain the body weight and metabolism by eating the right kind of foods and alcohol. People who suffer from Lipid disorders and diabetes should be treated adequately.
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