What Are the Symptoms and Complications of Fatty Liver Disease

What Are the Symptoms and Complications of Fatty Liver Disease? 

• Fatty liver disease is symptomless. The enlarged liver is often discovered during a medical examination.

• The patient may feel fatigue and abdominal discomfort.

• Excessive fat accumulated in the liver can lead to chronic inflammation, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

• Excessive fat in the liver induces insulin resistance in the liver and muscle tissues. Insulin resistance causes damage to insulin- producing beta cells in the pancreas.

The liver, located below the left side of the rib cage, is the second largest organ in the body. The liver has a multitude of important physiological functions, one of which is to convert nutrients to energy. During this conversion, fat is generated and stored in the liver. Fatty liver disease occurs when the amount of fat stored in the liver exceeds 5–10% of the weight of the liver. Obesity, hypercholesterolemia, and high blood triglyceride levels are risk factors for fatty liver disease. Anorexia and rapid weight loss can also cause fatty liver disease. In the US, about 20% of the population has fatty liver disease, which means 75 million to 100 million Americans suffer from this affliction. Fatty liver disease can affect any age group, but people aged 40–49 have the highest incident rate. Still, it is the most common liver-related disease in children aged 2–19.

Fatty liver disease can be divided into two types:

• Alcoholic fatty liver disease. Heavy consumption of alcohol can induce alcoholic fatty liver disease. Alcohol is converted into fat and stored in the liver. Alcoholic people are likely to suffer from alcoholic fatty liver disease.

• Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. High consumption of fructose makes one susceptible to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Like alcohol, fructose is converted into fat and stored in the liver. Excessive consumption of sugary beverages increases the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.