Fatty Liver Symptoms: How to React?

The problem with fatty liver symptoms is that they do not appear until later stages.

At its early stages, in most cases, fatty liver does not have associated symptoms.

You will experience fatigue and vague abdominal discomfort, but that is not something you can easily associate with fatty liver.

Excess fat in the liver will cause inflammation.

The only way to determine a fatty liver in its early stages is if a physician detect it is enlarged during a physical exam.

There are two types of fatty liver, alcoholic and nonalcoholic [1].

The latter is even harder to diagnose.

If not diagnosed early on, fatty liver can lead to cirrhosis, a late-stage scarring in the liver that occurs as response to liver injury.

As the liver tries to fight inflammation, it produces areas of scarring.

Constant and continued inflammation will allow scaring to spread up and take up more and more of liver tissue.

Cirrhosis is a life-threatening condition.

If not treated early on, cirrhosis can lead to fluid buildup in the abdomen, swelling of veins in your esophagus, liver cancer, end-stage liver failure, and slurred speech.

The good news is that you can do something to prevent fatty liver symptoms.

To reduce the risk of fatty liver disease, make sure you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and reduce the number of calories you eat on a daily basis
  • Stick to a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains
  • Exercise on a regular basis to promote healthy lifestyle

Signs and Symptoms

As mentioned previously, the early fatty liver symptoms are hard to notice and detect.

The reason for that is they are very similar to other gastrointestinal complaints.

There is not one clear and distinct symptom of fatty liver disease in its early stages.

With that in mind, here are the fatty liver symptoms you should pay attention to:

  • Abnormal stools
  • Abdominal pain located on the right side of the body, just beneath the ribs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of abdomen and/or legs
  • Flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, vomiting, fever, and nausea
  • Muscle or joint pain

There are also other fatty liver symptoms, but they appear in later stages.

Those include:

  • Dark urine
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes
  • Sensitivity to medications
  • Bleeding and bruising more easily
  • Experiencing stronger side effects when taking medications

Any liver disease causes toxins that are usually flushed out to stay in the blood, and then accumulate in the brain.

That will result in memory loss, mental confusion, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating.

Again, these symptoms are often associated with other conditions.

It is crucial that you pay attention to all of the symptoms, and connect the dots.

If diagnosed early on, fatty liver can be treated.

But in the later stages of fatty liver symptoms, the condition might be life-threatening.

Complications of fatty liver

There are a lot of complications that can occur if you ignore the fatty liver symptoms and do not make a change to your lifestyle.

When the normal function of your liver decreases, it can result in one of the following complications:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased mental function
  • Immune system impairment that increases the risk of infections
  • Insulin resistance, and possibly develop into diabetes type 2
  • Osteoporosis
  • Severe jaundice
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Weakness and muscle loss
  • Portal hypertension, or high blood pressure in the vein leading into the liver from the digestive tract

Foods to avoid with fatty liver

As soon as you notice the early fatty liver symptoms, you need to make a change to your lifestyle [2].

Mainly, the changes focus on your diet.

There are foods you need to avoid with fatty liver, and some that you should consume on a regular basis.

Diet is one of the main ways to both prevent and treat a fatty liver disease.

For fatty liver symptoms, doctors usually recommend a low-fat and reduced calorie diet.

Ideally, you should aim to lose 10% of your body weight.

Let’s take a look at some of the foods you need to consume first, and how they can prevent and treat fatty liver symptoms:

  • Greens like broccoli that can prevent fat buildup [3]
  • Tofu and other soy products that can reduce fat buildup in the liver [4]
  • Fish that can reduce inflammation and improve liver fat levels [5]. We are talking about fatty fish including salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, and others high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Walnuts, and nuts in general that improve the overall health and function of the liver [6]
  • Oatmeal to provide your body with energy to function properly [7]
  • Low fat dairy products that protect the liver from damage [8]
  • Avocado to get a healthy dose of healthy fats that slow down liver damage [9]
  • Green tea to reduce fat storage and fat absorption [10]
  • Generally speaking, a healthy diet for fatty liver symptoms includes lots of fruits and vegetables, high-fiber plants, no alcohol, and very little sugar and salt [11]

With that in mind, there are also foods that you absolutely must avoid.

They contribute to fatty liver disease, but also worsen the fatty liver symptoms.

Avoid:

  • Fried foods high in fat and calories
  • White bread, white rice, and white pasta made of processed flour
  • Alcohol, one of the major causes of fatty liver disease
  • Added sugar found in cookies, sodas, fruit juices, and candies
  • Salt, as it will make your body hold on to excess water
  • Red meat that is high in saturated fat

Causes of fatty liver

As mentioned previously, one of the biggest causes of fatty liver diseases is fat accumulation in the liver.

Experts do not know exactly why some people accumulate fat in the liver.

However, there are causes and risk factors that doctors agree upon:

  • Being overweight
  • High levels of fat, mainly triglycerides in the blood
  • High levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • Insulin resistance in which your cells don’t take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin
  • High cholesterol diet
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Underactive pituitary gland
  • Type 2 diabetes

fatty liver diet

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Sources:

  1. http://www.utswmedicine.org/stories/articles/year-2017/fatty-liver-disease-study.html
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160630135855.htm
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26865652
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120422162417.htm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4588084/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4588084/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325078/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096574/
  9. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001219074822.htm
  10. http://today.uconn.edu/2009/02/nutritional-scientist-studies-impact-of-green-tea-on-liver-disease
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28894701

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