Hepatic steatosis (or hepatic steatosis) is a condition where fatty liver develops. A liver with fatty liver is characterized by accumulation of fatty substances in liver cells. This accumulation results in accumulation of triglycerides and fatty acids. Fatty liver is characterized by accumulation of fat in tissues (such as liver cells and muscles) and accumulation of water in blood vessels. Hepatic steatosis can occur from various causes such as chronic hepatitis, alcoholic hepatitis, drug abuse, alcohol addiction, or viral infections. The main complications of fatty liver are cirrhosis (liver cancer) and death.
Steatosis – the accumulation of fat in liver cells – is considered to be the precursor of fatty liver. Hepatic steatosis can be either acute or chronic. Acute steatosis – characterized by the accumulation of excessive fat in liver cells – develops when there is an acute hepatitis. On the other hand, chronic steatosis – characterized by the accumulation of excessive fat in liver cells over a long period of time – develops when there is a failure in liver function, usually due to fatty liver.
Chronic steatosis, in turn, can be either mild or severe. Mild steatosis – less than 10% of the liver mass – can be caused by accumulation of excessive fatty deposits. In this condition, the liver function is preserved. On the other hand, severe steatosis can lead to liver cancer, liver enlargement, liver insufficiency and accumulation of fluid in blood vessels.
As for the treatment of steatosis, there is a wide variety of options available. One of the first treatment regimens that were used for patients with fatty liver was surgery. However, this invasive procedure has become less frequent now because there are more effective and safer treatments nowadays. Other treatment regimens include drugs, nutrition therapy, alternative treatments such as hydrotherapy and fibrinolytics, and even transplantation.
Drugs are usually prescribed for patients with steatosis. The most common drugs are anti-inflammatory and lipid-lowering drugs. Acetyl-l-carnitine is an example of an anti-inflammatory drug. It reduces fatty deposits in liver cells by reducing the production of “bad” cholesterol. Another drug called Metronidazole helps reduce the accumulation of triglycerides and cholesterol in liver cells by reducing the hepatic triglyceride level. Several other drugs have similar effect.
Nutrition therapy is another method of treating fatty liver. Several nutrients that can be taken to treat steatosis are antioxidants, like vitamin E, lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, vitamin D, minerals such as magnesium, zinc, etc., vitamins A, B-complex, and Vitamin C. Besides that, essential fatty acids can also be taken if hepatic steatosis is caused by fatty liver. This method can be combined with drugs and surgery to treat the condition. Some doctors recommend hydrotherapy. This method involves the use of water to flush fat and remove any excess cholesterol from liver cells, while others believe that it doesn’t help.
Alternative treatments include hydrotherapy, fibrinolytics, and insulin. These treatments are controversial, but can be effective if given by a professional. Another radical treatment is transplantation. This is performed by taking healthy liver cells from a patient’s own body. However, some doctors do not agree with this treatment because the transplanted liver does not work the same way as a natural liver does, especially in cases of severe genetic defects.
Alternative or complementary medicine have been proven to be effective in treating liver problems. In particular, acupuncture has been proven to treat hepatitis and cirrhosis by improving blood circulation, relieving pain, reducing swelling, and stimulating liver regeneration. Chinese herbs have been used to treat Hepatitis C. Although they do not cure the disease, Chinese herbs do improve liver health and prevent liver cancer. Another alternative treatment for Hepatitis C is the use of herbs containing ganoderic acids, such as panax ginseng, cnidium, lindera, and panax quinquefolium. However, drugs are still necessary to prevent recurrent liver cancer.