its health dangers and how to stop it

Until not so many years ago we thought that the words fatty liver were something that could only matter to ducks (geese, ducks or geese) and their future as Foie gras. Unfortunately, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD for its complicated acronym) is an increasingly common reality in Western societies.

various sources they point out that it affects between 20 and 30% of the populationbeing largely unaware of it, which makes hepatic steatosis (the other name given to this pathology) the most common liver disease in our country.

The drama is that the direct causes are not known (except when we talk about alcoholic fatty liver) and neither has a clear pharmacotherapybeyond the fact that we are advised of certain patterns of good behavior that could be extrapolated to any other healthy recommendation, that is: eating more balanced, not consuming toxic substances and exercising moderately.

What is certain is that NAFLD or fatty liver is usually associated with several diseases that also continue to increase in countries like Spain and throughout the West. In the list of risk factors appears the diabetesan elevated level of triglycerides or cholesterol high, the overweighthypertension and, in addition, other factors less linked to diet and sedentary lifestyle such as sleep apnea or hypothyroidism.

Fatty liver: a silent disease

This pathology is not exclusive to obese or elderly people. ©Freepik

Our beloved liver, beyond its fame for metabolizing alcoholIt is the viscera and largest organ of the body and the authentic cleanser of everything that passes through our body, because in addition to helping to digest food and store energy, it also eliminates toxins. When it turns into fatty liver, what happens is something as simple as fats (triglycerides) accumulate inside liver cellswhich if complicated can begin to cause inflammation and damage to liver cells.

When this occurs, our body is forced to redouble its efforts in regenerate these cells faster, but if the stage is high, that is, it is already considered hepatic steatosis, the number of damaged cells and inflammation increases. When this happens, they can develop fibrosis or scarring of parts of the liver, leaving a kind of useless cellular ‘cemetery’ and reducing the metabolic capacity of the liver.

The bad thing, in addition to not knowing why it happens or how to stop it, is also that does not manifest as it happens with other liver diseases as recognizable as cirrhosis or hepatitis. Among its symptoms, as you will see quite ambiguous, we find:

  • Fatigue.
  • General discomfort.
  • Discomfort in the right part of the abdomen.
  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Reddened palms.
  • Vasodilation.
  • yellowish skin

Until reaching that last example, where we can already verify that something is not working as it should, there are many phases in which can go unnoticed and more in people who are surprised because the contest of alcohol is not necessary for it to appear. In fact, that’s why it’s known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

When it appears due to a comorbidity, that is, together with other pathologies, should control the second to limit complications. Thus, people who drink alcohol occasionally or who are diabetic, have high cholesterol or hypertension, in addition to being overweight, should monitor all these factors before it’s too late, but when is it too late for fatty liver?

Several people holding glasses of alcohol, a trigger for fatty liver
Alcohol is a direct cause of the appearance of this pathology. ©Freepik.

Something that also happens with the so-called metabolic syndrome, which is the combination of being overweight, insulin resistance and high levels of triglycerides. When this cocktail is produced because these disorders cause fat to accumulate in liver cells, our liver is forced to synthesize more fat and metabolism slows down. So, as we said before, who is this metabolic customs guard? Exactly: the liver, which accumulates and stores fat because it cannot release it as easily.

Complications of fatty liver

Among the ‘good’ parts is that steatosis is not usually a complication and it simply remains benign liver disease if controlled. Even so, there is a higher risk that it can end up leading to cirrhosis, despite the fact that the person had not consumed alcohol in her life.

It’s what happens when does steatohepatitis appearan irreversible inflammation accompanied by different phases of fibrosis (those scars) that, in the future, could cause cirrhosis (as explained from MSD Manualsthe scarring that distorts the structure of the liver and impairs its function) that we mentioned and whose only treatment ends up being a liver transplant.

In addition, other complications that would be associated with fatty liver in extreme stages could include liver failure, acute alcoholic hepatitis, or liver cancerin addition to being linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases, either by itself or by sharing ‘misdeeds’ with other pathologies linked to these, such as those that are likely to cause it.

Various fast food dishes that can increase fatty liver
Although diet is not the only cause of fatty liver, it should not be neglected. ©Freepik

Its appearance is also not linked to a specific gender or to an age group, although it is clear that the older you are, more likely to suffer from fatty liver. That is not an obstacle for even minorsespecially in those who give rise to the appearance of metabolic syndrome, may suffer from this pathology.

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