Liver disease and its symptoms are quite common in patients with cirrhosis of the liver, but there are many more causes of cirrhosis. The most common cause is hepatitis B and C viruses. In rare cases, alcoholic hepatitis can lead to serious damage to the liver.
Fatty liver disease and its symptoms are more likely to be complicated when it is caused by non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Symptoms can include jaundice, though simple fatty liver does not necessarily have jaundice. Jaundice can usually be detected because of a raised blood cell count.
The symptoms of NAH are usually not as simple as those of cirrhosis. For example, jaundice can be associated with weight loss, but it can also be caused by a rash or itching or pain in the area of the liver. Pain and swelling in the abdomen may also be associated with the disease. If the condition is diagnosed with NASH, it is often followed by a diagnosis of PCOS – polycystic ovaries.
Another possible cause is excessive insulin resistance, which occurs when cells of the pancreas are overgrown. It occurs when there is either no or too little insulin produced. This often happens with people with diabetes, where the body’s inability to break down sugar causes too much fat to be produced in liver cells. Symptoms of fatty liver may not be as easily recognized as symptoms of diabetes and may not lead to a full diagnosis.
Because a blood test is not always conclusive, sometimes doctors neglect to mention symptoms of fatty liver disease or jaundice to patients who show only occasional symptoms. If your doctor fails to mention any symptoms when you have one, do not be complacent. Seek a second opinion if you do not think your first diagnosis is correct.
Other symptoms of fatty liver disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a poor response to insulin and developing diabetes. Of these, only high cholesterol is related to a fatty liver disease, as the liver manufactures the hormones that control blood sugar. Diabetes, though, is often related to other symptoms that may also be unexplained, such as sharp pains in the joints and excessive thirst. Overweight people have been known to develop symptoms of high cholesterol and high blood pressure at the same time, although this does not happen very often.
The most common treatment for fatty liver disease is a combination of prescription medications, diet and exercise. Many patients with cirrhosis also have insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, and these additional diseases must also be treated. A doctor may suggest that you start on medication to lower your blood sugar before you start any weight loss program. Others start by losing just a few pounds, but if the symptoms of fatty liver disease progress, it is best to lose more weight. Weight loss is usually accompanied by more favorable results, such as better sleep, fewer headaches and fewer mood swings.
It’s important to see your doctor regularly and work closely with him or her to control your symptoms. Your physician may need to do an ultrasound of the liver before treating your fatty liver. Ultrasound can pinpoint specific problems and make them easier to treat. Treatment of any underlying medical problem is better than trying to mask symptoms. It is very important to receive regular examinations and checkups to ensure that you are healthy and to catch problems before they progress.
In addition to weight loss and treatment of existing problems, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid fatty liver. Avoiding alcohol is one of the best ways to prevent fatty liver, since alcohol can be one of the causes of fatty liver. Alcohol use during the first part of the day can increase the production of free radicals in the liver, leading to additional damage. Alcohol use also tends to cause more inflammation of the liver and more damage to the cells. If you use alcohol on a regular basis, you should see your doctor frequently and have examinations at least once a year.
Another important step toward preventing cirrhosis and other liver disease is to eat a healthy diet and keep your weight under control. When symptoms of fatty liver disease progress, your doctor may recommend that you lose weight to reverse the damage. A dietitian can help you plan a low-calorie, low-fat, low-saturated, and low-toxic diet that will help you keep your weight within the recommended limits. You may be advised to limit your salt intake, since excess salt is another contributor to damage. You should also choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products.
Symptoms of fatty liver disease progress slowly, so if you start to notice signs of the disease, you should continue to make efforts to improve your health. Be careful to watch your weight, especially if you have been overweight for years. In addition, avoid alcoholic beverages and fatty foods. To further reduce inflammation, you can take herbs that have been shown to help reduce inflammation, such as milk thistle. In combination with your weight loss efforts and a healthy diet, you can significantly slow down the development of symptoms of fatty liver disease.