Many people have a fatty liver, which means there’s an accumulation of fat accumulation in their liver. Though not always a serious health condition, a fatty liver may cause permanent liver damage when left undiagnosed and untreated. At G.I. Medicine Associates, P.C. in St. Clair Shores and Macomb, Michigan, the experienced gastroenterology team diagnoses and treats fatty liver. To find out more about fatty liver, call the office nearest you to schedule an appointment.
A fatty liver means you have a buildup of fat in your liver. The liver is part of your digestive system and performs numerous functions, including making substances that help digest food, storing energy, and removing toxins from your blood.
Your liver has a small amount of fat. However, you may start to have problems when fat makes up more than 5-10% of your liver’s weight.
Too much fat in the liver causes inflammation and swelling that damages the tissue. The damaged liver turns into scar tissue, which affects normal function. Over time, the scarring may lead to cirrhosis and liver failure, or liver cancer.
There are two primary types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Heavy alcohol use causes an accumulation of fat in the liver. Your liver is responsible for metabolizing the alcohol you drink, which creates substances harmful to the liver. These substances damage the liver, leading to inflammation, excess fat, and scarring.
NAFLD is the accumulation of fat in the liver in people who don’t drink heavily. NAFLD is very common, affecting one out of every three adults in the United States.
Researchers are still investigating what causes NAFLD, but having diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity increases your risk.
You can have a fatty liver without having any symptoms. Your primary care provider may initially find problems with your liver when they check your liver enzymes during a routine blood test.
G.I. Medicine Associates, P.C. may perform an imaging test or a liver biopsy to diagnose fatty liver.
The gastroenterologists may request an ultrasound or CT scan of your liver to get pictures that may show signs of fatty liver.
They perform a liver biopsy to determine the severity of your fatty liver disease.
There’s no cure for fatty liver disease, but changing your lifestyle may stop the progression of the disease and give your liver a chance to regenerate and heal.
Treatment for fatty liver includes:
If you have cirrhosis or end-stage liver disease (ESLD) from your fatty liver, the team may recommend a liver transplant.
Fatty liver disease is reversible when diagnosed and treated during the early stages. Call G.I. Medicine Associates, P.C., to schedule an appointment.