The liver, the largest internal organ in our body, plays a vital role in maintaining our overall health. From detoxification to regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels, the liver is crucial for our well-being. With the increasing prevalence of fatty liver disease, it is important to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors. If you are overweight, lead a sedentary lifestyle, consume alcohol, or have blood sugar problems, you may be at a higher risk of developing fatty liver disease.
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What is Fatty Liver Disease?
Fatty liver disease occurs when excess fat accumulates in the liver, causing it to enlarge. This condition is commonly observed in individuals who are obese, have long-standing diabetes, or consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Dr. Naveen Ganjoo, Senior Consultant Hepatology and Liver transplant at SPARSH Hospital, explains that if left untreated, fatty liver disease can progress to liver cirrhosis, a serious condition with long-term complications.
The Rise of NAFLD
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) cases in India have been increasing rapidly. According to a study conducted by the Indian National Association for Study of the Liver, 40% of the population in the country is affected by NAFLD. This alarming increase is primarily attributed to metabolic risk factors such as leading a sedentary lifestyle and consuming high-calorie foods.
What Causes Fatty Liver and Who is at Risk?
Fatty liver disease can be caused by various factors, including obesity, unhealthy eating habits, excessive alcohol consumption, long-standing diabetes, certain medications, genetic issues, and viral hepatitis B and C. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption are essential to prevent fatty liver disease.
Signs of Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease often progresses silently without noticeable symptoms in the early stages. Therefore, it is important to watch out for signs such as excessive fatigue, pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, swelling in the legs, bloating, disturbed sleep patterns, fatigue, and lethargy.
How to Manage or Treat Fatty Liver Disease
Treating the underlying cause is crucial for managing fatty liver disease. For obese individuals, weight loss is the primary goal, as losing 8-10% of body weight can lead to significant improvement. If viral hepatitis or other viruses are the cause, treating the underlying infection can help in recovery. Alongside medication, certain lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol consumption, adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight loss can reduce the burden on the liver.
5 Tips to Prevent Fatty Liver Disease
- Avoid weight gain and maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Diabetic patients should undergo screening for fatty liver disease, as they are at higher risk.
- Control diabetes through proper medication, diet, and exercise.
- Prevent and treat viral diseases such as hepatitis B and C to reduce the risk of developing viral-induced fatty liver disease.
Early detection and intervention can help manage and treat fatty liver disease, preventing it from progressing to a more serious stage. By taking care of your liver health through a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce the risk of fatty liver disease and ensure your overall well-being.