The biggest concern for people with fatty liver is knowing if their liver is still healthy or if it is already sliding into cirrhosis. Clearly that is a situation to avoid.
This video talks about end stage symptoms but it is important to know that, with a proper diet, it is possible to minimize the progression of cirrhosis for many people. So, knowledge is key, but intercepting the disease process as early as possible is critical.
There are a few questions that will help you understand your situation
(some of these questions you already know the answer to and some you will need to have more tests):
- Do you have diabetes? (especially if you are overweight and have had it a long time)
- Do you have Pre-diabetes? (your blood sugar fasting is in the 100 range especially if you are heavy)
- Have you been told your liver tests are persistently abnormal?
- Is your liver not just fatty but also enlarged?
- Does bad fatty liver run in your family?
- Do you belong to an ethnic group at high risk?
- Highest: South Asian (e.g. India)
- Second highest: Hispanic
- Third: Caucasian
- Fourth: African Americans
- Have you been told you have the "metabolic syndrome" with high blood pressure, high triglycerides? Do you have a big gut?
Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver does not function properly due to long-term damage. Typically, the disease comes on slowly over months or years. It is a progressive disease where long-term, continuous damage to the liver occurs. When healthy liver tissue is destroyed and replaced by scar tissue, the condition becomes serious and we call that cirrhosis. It can start blocking the flow of blood through the liver which results in degeneration of the organ.
Early on, there are often no symptoms. As the disease worsens, a person may become tired, weak, itchy, have swelling in the lower legs, develop yellow skin, bruise easily, have fluid build up in the abdomen, or develop spider-like blood vessels on the skin. The fluid build-up in the abdomen may become spontaneously infected. Other complications include hepatic encephalopathy, bleeding from dilated veins in the esophagus or dilated stomach veins, and liver cancer. Hepatic encephalopathy results in confusion and possibly unconsciousness.
If you would like to learn the how the disease develops and what actually happens take a look at this short video.
Cirrhosis is most commonly caused by alcohol, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Typically, more than two or three drinks per day over a number of years is required for alcoholic cirrhosis to occur. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is due to a number of reasons, including being overweight, diabetes, high blood fats, and high blood pressure. A number of less common causes include autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, hemochromatosis, certain medications, and gallstones. Cirrhosis is characterized by the replacement of normal liver tissue by scar tissue. These changes lead to loss of liver function. Diagnosis is based on blood testing, medical imaging, and liver biopsy.