Cirrhosis and Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty Liver Disease is a common condition all over the world. It has two subtypes: Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD) and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). The latter condition affects about a quarter of the world’s population, and is on the rise along with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity here in the United States. Researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact cause underlying NAFLD, though they have identified some risk factors that could increase your likelihood of developing it. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Prediabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High levels of fats (cholesterol, triglycerides) in the blood
  • Being middle aged
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Being Latino or Caucasian
  • Having hepatitis C or other infections
  • Insulin resistance syndrome and other metabolic conditions
  • Previous exposure to certain toxins
  • Taking certain medications, such as corticosteroids and some cancer drugs

AFLD, on the other hand, is caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Your likelihood of developing it is compounded if you:

  • Are obese
  • Are a women
  • Have been a heavy drinker for a while
  • Have certain genetic mutations

Some people who have NAFLD, however, can develop a condition known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is a more aggressive iteration of Fatty Liver Disease. NASH’s hallmark is inflammation of the liver; the condition can progress to cirrhosis (advanced scarring). Some individuals with AFLD may also see their condition progress to alcoholic hepatitis and eventually cirrhosis as well. 

Cirrhosis, unfortunately, is generally asymptomatic until your liver has undergone extensive damage. Once your symptoms appear, however, they may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Edema (swelling) in your legs, feet, or ankles
  • Ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen)
  • Redness in the palms of your hands
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Absent or loss of menstrual periods unrelated to menopause
  • Spider-like blood vessels
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Gynecomastia (breast enlargement)
  • Testicular atrophy 
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Hepatic encephalopathy (drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech)

The Ezra abdominal, torso, and full-body scans could catch Fatty Liver Disease or cirrhosis. If you’re interested in learning more about our screening plans and pricing options, you may do so here.