Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an extended term for a wide range of liver conditions. In the early stages, the disease does not cause any symptoms and doesn’t require further treatment. However, if you continue experiencing symptoms like fatigue, red palms, unexplained weight loss, or weakness, you should check up with a healthcare provider.
The most common cause of chronic liver disease is NAFLD. Up to 30% of the affected individuals will experience a more advanced form of the disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Fatty liver occurs when fat builds up in the liver cells and interferes with normal liver function. So, the fat molecules are not properly dissolved and metabolized and get stored in the liver. Nevertheless, early diagnosis of fatty liver can lead to recovery and repair of the damage.
Let’s learn more about this topic in the following article.
Fatty Liver Overview
The liver is an incredible organ. It has many functions, the primary being the removal of toxins and the filtering of blood. When the liver detects a harmful substance, it tries to eliminate it from the body so it can obtain equilibrium. If fats are stored in the liver cells, normal liver function is obstructed, and inflammation occurs.
If the liver is continuously inflamed, it becomes stiff, lumpy, and fibrotic. And if left untreated, it could lead to irreversible liver damage and potentially liver failure.
Thus, a liver blood test is crucial in the early diagnosis of fatty liver.
Early detection of fatty liver improves the chances of reversing the liver damage and managing the condition before it requires extensive medical treatment. It’s critical to have an accurate diagnosis so you can treat the condition and ask for help on time.
The blood test mentioned earlier will include a complete blood count, liver function and enzyme test, fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C, and a lipid panel.
Imaging screenings are further used when liver disease is suspected. Such screenings include an abdominal ultrasound, a CT, transient elastography, and magnetic resonance elastography.
If the tests above are inconclusive or the healthcare provider is not sure about the diagnosis, they can order a minimally-invasive procedure, a liver biopsy. A small tissue sample is taken from the liver and examined in a laboratory to look for any signs of scarring and inflammation.
How Can Early Diagnosis Prevent Fatty Liver?
You can take certain steps to prevent the fatty liver from progressing and becoming a more serious problem.
According to research, weight loss is the best way to reverse and control NAFLD. If you lose up to 10% of your total body weight, you can improve your liver health significantly.
Talk with your doctor about the options for losing weight. Such options would be a proper and balanced diet, exercise, following a weight loss program, or taking weight loss medication. However, this option is mostly recommended to individuals who are obese and with a high BMI of 25+.
There are various programs designed for a wide range of patients. These programs include diets designed according to the person’s body, metabolism, height, and weight and include a proper ratio of micronutrients, proteins, and calories.
Treat Other Health Issues
If you are struggling with other health conditions like type 2 diabetes, PCOS, high cholesterol and triglycerides, and underactive thyroid or pituitary gland, you will need to treat these conditions first to improve liver function.
Make Diet Changes
Changes in the diet are helpful in losing weight and lowering the number of fats in the liver cells. The Mediterranean diet is recommended for those struggling with a fatty liver due to the inclusion of whole grains foods, vegetables, fruits, seafood, etc. Limit the sugar intake and the amount of trans and saturated fats. Eat more fish and high-fiber foods.
Avoid Alcohol Consumption
Avoid alcohol or limit its consumption to a minimum. Alcohol can cause fat build-up in the liver cells and potentially damage the organ.
Do Not Use Supplements
Do not use any supplements or herbs before consulting your doctor.
There are no medicines to treat a fatty liver, but there are some supplements you can take after consulting your doctor. Also, you may need vaccines against hepatitis B and C and a flu shot annually.
According to some studies, vitamin E is crucial in improving liver function, so consult with your doctor about the intake units.
Take Care of Your Health
Nobody knows your body better than you, which means you can identify even small changes in your overall functioning. If you notice any of the signs or symptoms above, talk with your doctor about the next steps in diagnosing fatty liver. To learn more about the stages of NAFLD, the difference between NAFLD and NASH, and treatment, visit our blog.