Fatty liver disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose due to its asymptomatic nature. Your doctor will typically conduct at least one of the following if a liver test comes back abnormal: a liver biopsy, a physical exam, an analysis of your medical history, and further blood tests accompanied by imaging tests.
Interestingly enough, despite how difficult the condition is to detect, it’s quite common. In fact, one of its subtypes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), affects about 25% of the world’s population, and is still on the rise in the US. There are a number of risk factors associated with having a higher risk of developing it, including: rapid weight loss, having type 2 diabetes, having Hepatitis C and other infections, being middle aged, and having high blood pressure. The other major subtype of fatty liver disease, aka alcoholic fatty liver disease, is caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for fatty liver disease, and no approved medications for any of its iterations. According to MedlinePlus, there are a few lifestyle changes that can help your situation if you have any form of the condition:
- Regular exercise: this can aid in weight loss and in turn reduce fat content in the liver.
- Consume a healthy diet: eat lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, while limiting sugar and salt.
- Get vaccinated: especially for hepatitis A and B, pneumococcal disease, and the flu. If you get hepatitis A and B with fatty liver, you’re at a higher risk of developing liver failure and needing a liver transplant. Furthermore, people with chronic liver disease–such as fatty liver–are at a higher risk of infection, so the other vaccines are important, too.
- Talk to your doctor before starting any dietary supplements: or any alternative medicines, as they can damage the liver.
If you have alcoholic fatty liver disease, the most essential part in treating it is to stop drinking alcohol, which is what caused your condition in the first place. And if you have NAFLD, the most important treatment plan for you is weight loss, which may reduce fibrosis, inflammation, as well as fat in the liver.
The Ezra abdominal, torso, and full-body scans may find signs of fatty liver disease. If you’d like to learn more about our screening options, you may do so here.