History: 50 year old male with right upper quadrant pain
Fatty liver disease is generally divided into two main categories, alcoholic liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). More than 15 million people in the U.S. abuse or overuse alcohol. Almost all of them — 90%-100% — develop fatty livers. Fatty liver can occur after drinking moderate or large amounts of alcohol. It can even occur after a short period of heavy drinking (acute alcoholic liver disease). NAFLD tends to develop in people who are overweight or obese or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Rapid weight loss and poor eating habits also may lead to NAFLD. However, some people develop NAFLD even if they do not have any risk factors. NAFLD affects up to 25% of people in the United States.
When symptoms occur, they may include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, spider-like blood vessels, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), itching, fluid build up and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites), and mental confusion.
Diagnosis of fatty liver on radiology studies may be done by ultrasound, CT, or MRI.
There are no medical treatments yet for NAFLD. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help prevent liver damage from starting or reverse it in the early stages.
- See a doctor who specializes in the liver regularly
- Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your liver health
- Lose weight, if you are overweight or obese
- Lower your cholesterol and triglycerides
- Control your diabetes
- Avoid alcohol
Every time I read a study on a patient with a fatty liver I can’t help but think about foie gras.
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