Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol
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Fatty liver is also known as hepatic steatosis. It happens when fat builds up in the liver. Having small amounts of fat in the liver is perfectly normal, however, having too much can become a major health problem. The colour of your skin can determine if you may be heading that way. What to spot?
Alcoholic liver disease is an inflammatory condition of the liver caused by heavy alcohol consumption over an extended period of time.
Symptoms can vary depending on the amount of damage to the liver.
Easy bleeding or bruising, fatigue, changes in your mental state including confusion, jaundice (or yellowing of the skin or eyes), pain or swelling in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, and weight loss are all possible symptoms.
Skin which is yellow occurs when there is too much bilirubin in the system.
Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that is created by the breakdown of dead red blood cells in the liver.
Normally, the liver gets rid of bilirubin along with old red blood cells.
Jaundice may indicate a serious problem with the function of your red blood cells, liver, gallbladder, or pancreas.
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It is unclear exactly why some people accumulate fat in the liver while others do not.
Similarly, there is limited understanding of why some fatty livers develop inflammation that progresses to cirrhosis (liver damage).
According to the Mayo Clinic, fatty liver disease are linked to the following:
Overweight or obesity
Insulin resistance, in which your cells don’t take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin
High blood sugar (hyperglycaemia), indicating prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
High levels of fats, particularly triglycerides, in the blood.
To diagnose fatty liver, a healthcare professional will take your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and order one or more tests.
If fatty liver disease is suspected they will likely ask you questions about:
- Your family medical history, including any history of liver disease
- Your alcohol consumption and other lifestyle habits
- Any medical conditions that you might have
- Any medications that you might take
- Recent changes in your health
Currently, no medications have been approved to treat fatty liver disease and more research is needed to develop and test medications to treat this condition.
In many cases, lifestyle changes can help reverse fatty liver disease. For example, your doctor might advise you to:
- Limit or avoid alcohol
- Take steps to lose weight
- Make changes to your diet
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