Fatty liver, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common condition, occurring in 20-40% of the population in Western countries. It can range from mild benign fatty liver to inflammation and scarring of the liver, occasionally resulting in cirrhosis.
Fatty Liver Risk Factors
The primary risk factors for the disease include obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol (especially high triglycerides), and family history. Patients consuming moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol have findings very similar to NAFLD, so patients must stop drinking if the condition is identified.
Fatty Liver Diagnosis
NAFLD is diagnosed most commonly by an ultrasound, often performed due to mild elevations in liver-related blood tests. Other blood tests may be necessary to rule out other causes of liver disease such as Hepatitis C and other viruses, as well as autoimmune or genetic etiologies. Sometimes a liver biopsy may be required.
Treatment of Fatty Liver
Treatment of NAFLD is primarily focused on addressing the risk factors listed above through lifestyle modifications (diet, exercise, and weight loss), and control of diabetes and high cholesterol. There are currently no proven medications that treat NAFLD, although increasing data suggest Vitamin E may be helpful. You should, however, consult your physician before taking any non-prescribed supplements.
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