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Fatty liver disease is the accumulation of fatty substances in the cells of the liver. Symptoms may be non-specific and confused with other diseases, therefore, appropriate diagnosis requires specialist examinations: ultrasound, morphology or biopsy. A proper diet is very effective in treating fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver disease(NAFLD) is a condition in which fat bodies accumulate in hepatocytes, the basic building blocks of the liver. Usually the organ copes well with this "intruder", but the burdened organ becomes more sensitive to the action of viruses, toxins, drugs.
NAFLD is divided into two forms. The first one is the less advanced, simplenonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL), in which hepatocytes are not damaged. The second isnonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)(nonalcoholic steatohepatitis - NASH). complications such as cirrhosis of the liver.
Steatosis does not cause any discomfort in most cases. Sometimes its existence is signaled by fatigue, weakness, deterioration of physical and mental condition. However, these are non-specific symptoms that can be attributed to many conditions. Less common symptoms are pain or discomfort in the right hypochondrium, indicating that the liver has enlarged. Symptoms indirectly indicative of fatty liver appear much more often. They are associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease. Unfortunately, complications of fatty liver disease can be very serious.
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Fatty liver disease - complications
We ignore "overloading" of liver cells with fat, because it does not hurt us. However, if we do not react properly, NAFLD will turn into NASH, and it is this that has serious he alth consequences.
Fat particles can initiate the avalanche formation of free radicals, resulting in the so-called oxidative stress. His aftermaththere is inflammation. The liver fights it with the help of the immune system, but as a result of such struggle, the parenchyma is damaged. Scars form in their place because damaged liver cells are replaced by fibrous tissue. The liver gradually becomes fibrous. Cirrhosis can be a consequence of this process. And in the cirrhotic liver, the risk of developing liver cancer is significantly increased.
Fatty liver disease - research
We most often find out about fatty liver during abdominal ultrasound or routine laboratory tests. The ultrasound image (USG) shows increased echogenicity, while blood tests - increased activity of ALT and AST transaminases.
At the beginning of the disease, the increase in ALT, a liver-specific transaminase, is more significant, and later - AST, which is alarming as it may indicate advanced fibrosis of this organ's parenchyma.
An increase in the concentration of the GGTP enzyme is less frequently observed. Additional information is provided by the lipid and carbohydrate profile, as there is almost always too much blood triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and glucose in the blood. However, additional tests are needed to rule out other liver diseases.
Biopsy is a simpler and shorter diagnostic route, which enables the assessment of the degree of fatty liver and its cause. It is invasive and quite unpleasant, but safe.
Fatty liver disease - treatment
The fatty liver process can be stopped and even reversed. It also manages to get rid of inflammation. Even its fibrosis is not irreversible, because this organ has great regenerative potential. The thing is, however, that the most effective drugs are in the hands of us, not doctors.
The first is weight loss. Let's lose weight slowly, with the help of a doctor and dietitian. We should not follow any drastic diets because, paradoxically, starvation has the same effect as overeating - fatty liver. However, losing excess weight is only half the battle. This effect must still be maintained, therefore it is necessary to permanently change eating habits. It also applies to those who did not have to lose weight.
A diet for people with fatty liver disease should be a low-calorie diet, easy to digest, low in saturated fatty acids and sugar-containing products, and rich in antioxidants to prevent oxidative stress.
Regular physical activity is another important component of the non-pharmacological treatment of fatty liver disease. The combination of an appropriate diet and exercise reduces the release of pro-inflammatory factors and improves the lipid profileand carbohydrate.
Effects will be better if the patient is taking vitamin E, which breaks oxidative stress and reduces inflammation. However, it must be taken in certain doses under the supervision of a doctor.Important
In the case of fatty liver disease, the cooperation of doctors of different speci alties is important. Statins prescribed by a cardiologist have a positive effect on the lipid profile, while metformin recommended by a diabetologist reduces insulin resistance and helps you lose weight. But there is no miracle pill for fatty liver alone.