Its scientific name is hepatic steatosis, although it is popularly known as fatty liver. It can be caused by excessive consumption of alcohol or a metabolic syndrome such as diabetes or hypertension. Know the main signs of this disease below.
What is the fatty liver?
When fat accumulates in the liver cells we can suffer from fatty liver. This pathology is closely related to obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension. In many cases the fat cells fill with fat and “pass” the excess to nearby organs.
It is important to know that the liver fulfills vital functions: it produces proteins, regulates the metabolism of fats, eliminates toxins from the blood and controls the amount of amino acids a general level. Therefore, it is essential to keep it in good condition.
There are some risk factors that predispose a person to this disease:
- Middle-aged women
- Overweight people
- Diabetic patients or with high cholesterol
- Have certain eating habits
- Problems of alcohol addiction
Signs that alert of fatty liver
The bad news is that in most cases hepatic steatosis is asymptomatic. That means that until the person does not perform a study it is difficult to detect it. There are three tests used to diagnose this disease:
- Blood tests (to know transaminase levels)
- Ultrasounds (the brighter and bigger the liver is more involved)
- Biopsies (to know the degree of suffering)
Some patients do experience symptoms or suffer from certain health problems that can be related to steatosis:
1. Abdominal pain
The discomfort or “stitch” is experienced in the center or upper right part of the abdomen. It has nothing to do with an activity or punctual effort. It may appear after eating because the stomach expands and presses on the enlarged liver.
2. Abdominal swelling
Ascites is the presence of fluid between the visceral and parietal peritoneum, and is derived from liver disease. The signs of this problem are abdominal distention, indigestion, pain in the lower back and difficulty in breathing. Edema may also occur in the ankles.
If anything, that is consumed (even if it is healthy or in a small amount) causes upset stomach, nausea or gas, it may be due to some complication in the liver. People who have fatty liver many times go to the doctor thinking that the problem is indigestion and when they do exams they realize that they suffer from steatosis.
When the liver does not work properly, the metabolism slows down. This happens when any important organ has a problem. The body tries to protect itself from the situation and compensates for that lack by pumping less blood.
This particular case can lead to unexplained tiredness, concentration problems, confusion, fatigue or loss of energy. Also, the person can lose interest in those activities that he used to do and instead want to spend hours and hours sleeping.
5. Dark urine
Through the urine We can detect some ailments or diseases. Do not forget that this liquid carries toxins and waste. In the case of suffering from fatty liver, the fluid will be darker than usual and that will not change throughout the day (it is normal for it to be darker in the morning, but then it becomes clearer).
In the case of feces can also present changes: be whiter or with clay color and more stink than usual.
6. Changes in the skin
Jaundice is one of the signs of hepatic steatosis. It is the yellow coloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to the increase in bilirubin levels accumulated in the tissues. It can also appear by the destruction of erythrocytes or by a problem in the gallbladder.
Other changes in the skin due to fatty liver are: discolored neck and armpits, broken blood vessels in the face, reddened palms or spider veins in the back, chest or shoulders. White spots may appear under the nails.
Diet and fatty liver
Once the fatty liver has been diagnosed, the next step is to start an appropriate treatment. In addition to the medications that can be prescribed by the doctor, it is essential to follow a low-fat diet and perform physical activity. Here are some recommendations:
1. Reduce the intake of refined products
In this group are flour and white sugars. Instead, choose whole grains and integral versions.
2. Follow a Mediterranean diet
It is one of the healthiest that exists, since it is based on many foods low in fat or with healthy fats, such as olive oil.
3. Avoid alcohol
It is one of the main enemies of the liver. The consumption of alcoholic beverages in excess can result not only in steatosis, but also in cirrhosis.
4. Do not consume certain medications
Check with your doctor to find out which drugs can be harmful to your condition. Probably, it tells you to reduce the intake of analgesics, estrogens and anti-inflammatories as much as possible.
5. Do sport
Exercise is a great ally for you to feel better and gradually your liver function properly. You can walk in the park, walk your dog, ride a bike or swim. Choose the discipline that you like the most and repeat it at least three times a week.