Worrying signs that your fatty liver is getting worse
Fatty liver in many people goes undiagnosed in the early stages because it's most asymptomatic. Here are signs that your fatty liver is getting worse.
Fatty liver often appears harmless and has rarely any symptoms in the initial stages. It all starts with a build-up of fat in liver that is not broken down properly due to consuming too many calories or diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol among others. In the initial stages, there is hardly any inflammation of damage to the liver and many people may not reach advanced stages of fatty liver disease where the risks of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer goes up. Fatty liver in many people goes undiagnosed in the early stages because it's most asymptomatic. However, as the disease progresses one may start to notice yellowing of skin, dull ache in the lower right side of the ribs, swelling in abdomen, legs, weight loss among many other symptoms. (Also read: 8 fruits you must eat to reverse fatty liver disease)
"Fatty liver is on the rise due to lifestyle and diet changes. A sedentary lifestyle and excess intake of processed and high-calorie diet are some of the major causes of this condition. Though alcohol tops the chart as an etiology for fatty liver, non-alcoholic fatty liver is equally on the rise due to this," says Dr Amol Dahale, Consultant, Gastroenterology, Manipal Hospitals, Baner-Pune.
"Mostly detected in asymptomatic patients, few people can develop symptoms like upper abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, decreased appetite even jaundice in a few cases. Though look benign initially, few people develop cirrhosis and even liver cancer which can be fatal," says Dr Dahale.
Dr. Pratik Tibdewal, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road explains in detail the four stages of fatty liver disease and when should one start worrying.
FIRST STAGE: NO RED FLAGS
There are four stages of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) which determine the progression of the disease. The first stage is simple fatty liver or steatosis. This happens when the liver cells start to build-up fat, but without inflammation or scarring at this stage. There are no red flags in this stage and a large number of people don’t even know they have fatty liver. Not everyone with fatty liver will get non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which is the second stage.
SECOND STAGE: INFLAMMATION
The second stage of NAFLD is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Here, there is a build-up of fat in the liver cells along with inflammation as the liver is repairing damaged tissue. If the damaged tissue is more then there can be scarring of the liver leading to fibrosis
THIRD STAGE: FIBROSIS
The third stage of NAFLD is fibrosis. It is seen when the scar tissue is there in the liver and in the blood vessels around the liver. Thus, treating inflammation may prevent further progression or even reverse some of the damage. However, if not tackled at the right time, it can lead to cirrhosis.
FOURTH STAGE: CIRRHOSIS
The fourth stage of NAFLD is cirrhosis. At this stage, the liver will completely stop working and there can be signs and symptoms such as yellowing of the skin and a dull ache in the lower right side of the ribs and one will suffer from liver damage which can lead to Ascites (abnormal swelling), leg swelling, bleeding from vomiting or altered consciousness which will require hospitalisation and may require a liver transplantation.
Dr Shankar Zanwar Consultant Gastroenterologist, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central shares fatty liver danger signs that nobody should ignore.
- If the patient starts getting fatigue in activities which are not usually tiresome
- Loss of desire to eat food
- Yellowish discolouration of eyes and urine
- Fullness of abdomen typically due to fluid accumulation
- Blood vomiting
- Black coloured stools
- Leg swelling
- Weight loss
- Abnormal mental activity in form of disturbed sleep and wake cycle, irrelevant talking, disorientation
- Easy bruisability meaning bleeding under skin with trivial injuries
"As the dictum goes that prevention is better than cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to a complete reversal of the disease. Today with the availability of multiple detection tools like ultrasound, fibro scan, blood tests, early diagnosis is possible. Regular exercise, dietary and lifestyle changes along with medicines can help us to cure fatty liver," says Dr Dahale.