Fatty Liver Symptoms Explored

Fatty liver symptoms often go unnoticed by both liver patients and doctors. There are several reasons for this.

First, since the liver is an internal organ, you won’t be able to see any inflammation or scarring that may be occurring with the naked eye. As fat accumulates in the liver, it takes over the spaces normally used by healthy liver cells (hepatocytes) and the liver becomes larger and heavier. However, in most circumstances, you won’t notice any symptoms as fatty infiltration causes your liver to slowly enlarge over time. Fatty liver disease and its corresponding stages can take years or even decades to fully develop.

Fatty liver diseaseSecond, fatty liver disease symptoms can be difficult to detect because the liver lacks the sensitive pain receptors found in other areas of the body. Therefore, you may not experience liver damage as pain. When pain does occur it usually results from the stretching of the peritoneum (a membrane that forms the lining of the abdominal cavity and covers most of the intra-abdominal organs including the liver) or from an enlarged liver that puts pressure on other internal organs and other areas of the body.

Third, non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) progresses through several different stages: fatty liver (simple steatosis), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), liver cirrhosis (permanent scarring, fibrosis, and liver hardening), and eventually complete liver failure. You’ll experience few, if any, signs of liver damage when fat first starts to accumulate in the liver during the first stage (fatty liver). Read the rest of this entry

What Is Fatty Liver Disease And How Do I Know If I Have It?

Fatty liver (also known as fatty liver disease or FLD) occurs when there is an excess accumulation of triglyceride fat in the liver.  The triglyceride fats accumulate when cells abnormally retain lipids via the process of steatosis.

When too much fat accumulates in the liver, it takes up space within and around the hepatocytes (liver cells).  The fat takes over the spaces normally used by healthy cells and the liver becomes larger and heavier.  People experiencing fatty liver disease sometimes experience pressure due to the liver enlarging.

A normal, healthy liver is triangular in shape and has a reddish-brown appearance.  If you take a cross-section of a healthy liver, you’ll find a lot of vacant spaces and channels (sinusoids).  These are normally filled with blood and allow the absorption of essential fats, proteins, and acids, and allow for blood to be filtered.

In a fatty liver, the color is often yellowish, and you’ll often notice signs of stretching and swelling.  A cross section will reveal fewer spaces and channels as many will be filled up with fat.  In severe cases, the blood filtering process will be impaired and complete liver failure can occur.

The liver is a vital organ and performs hundreds of critical functions in the body.  It is second in size only to your skin, and it is the heaviest organ, weighing up to 3lbs.  Maintaining proper liver function is critical to living a long and healthy life.  If your liver stays healthy, much of the rest of your body will stay healthy as well.

Fatty liver by itself is not fatal.  However, if not identified early and kept under control, it can lead to more severe conditions such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Read the rest of this entry