Liver fat: degrees, symptoms, causes, treatment and +

What is liver fat?

The accumulation of fat in the liver is called hepatic steatosis . It happens when the liver cells start to accumulate fat. The organ usually has a little bit of fat, which is natural. Between 5 and 10% of your weight is usually fat. However, when the amount of the substance goes above that, the liver is fatty.

This buildup can happen due to poor diet, alcohol abuse or being overweight. Although obese and diabetic people, in addition to alcoholics, develop this disease more frequently, anyone is subject to having fatty liver.

Usually the fatty liver has no symptoms, especially at the beginning, so it can be difficult to diagnose the disease. However, as the severity of the disease increases, the symptoms can be felt and the consequences can be severe.

Index – in this article you will find the following information

  1. What is liver fat?
  2. Types
  3. Degrees of disease
  4. Causes
  5. Groups of risk
  6. Symptoms
  7. How is the diagnosis of fatty liver made?
  8. Can hepatic steatosis be cured?
  9. What is the treatment?
  10. Medications for liver steatose
  11. Home Remedies
  12. Living together
  13. Prognosis
  14. Complications
  15. How to prevent liver steatose?

Types

There are two types of fatty liver. The disease is classified according to the cause of the accumulation of fat.

Alcoholic hepatic steatosis

In the alcoholic version of the disease, the most serious, the cause of the accumulation of fat in the liver is the abuse of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is processed by the liver and exaggerating the consumption of the substance can seriously damage the organ.

Non-alcoholic liver steatosis

In this version, the disease is caused by other factors. They can be:

  • Overweight and obesity;
  • Viral hepatitis;
  • Diabetes;
  • High cholesterol or triglycerides;
  • Very rapid change in weight;
  • Use of certain medications such as estrogen, corticosteroids, antiretrovirals, among others;
  • Chronic liver inflammation due to other diseases.

This version of the disease is reversible and curable and rarely needs medication for treatment.

Degrees of disease

Liver steatosis is divided into degrees, depending on the amount of fat present in the liver.

Grade 1 (Light)

In this degree, the disease does not usually cause symptoms or any consequence in the person’s body. Fat levels are slightly above ideal and reducing these levels back to healthy is not difficult through diet and exercise.

Grade 2 (Moderate)

Symptoms characteristic of the accumulation of fat in the liver may appear, such as swelling of the belly, abdominal pain or white stools. In case the accumulation of fat is non-alcoholic, a cure is still possible and medications are not yet needed. In case it is an alcoholic case, the situation is a little more complicated.

Grade 3 (Large accumulation)

At this stage, fatty liver develops into steatohepatitis, an inflammation in the liver caused by the large accumulation of fat. This inflammation causes damage to the cells of the organ, which, in repetition, can cause fibrosis, in addition to reducing the effectiveness of the organ.

Over time and many fibroses, the condition can progress to cirrhosis and the liver can become completely inefficient. This can lead to more problems involving the lack of blood filtration on the part of the organ. At this stage, the disease is extremely dangerous.

Causes

The causes of fat accumulation in the liver are directly related to the patient’s habits. Being sedentary, being overweight and consuming a lot of alcoholic beverages can cause fat accumulations and liver damage, but these are not the only things that can lead to this condition.

Overweight

High weight can cause accumulations of fat in the liver and other organs, especially if the amount of abdominal fat (in the belly) is large.

Malnutrition

Poor nutrition can cause serious problems for the whole body, including the liver. Even if the person is not overweight, if he or she consumes a lot of fats, the liver can start to accumulate them.

Sudden weight loss

Losing too much weight too fast can leave a build-up of fat in the liver, which will proportionally get more fat. It is important that diets are made in a healthy way, without being too radical, to keep the person’s body healthy.

Sudden weight loss is a cause of the accumulation of fat in the liver, especially in situations where the person is at his ideal weight ( BMI between 18 and 25) before  losing weight quickly.

Sedentary lifestyle

The fats that are accumulated within the liver cells are triglycerides. This type of fat is used by the body to produce energy, which is used in physical exercise.

Sedentary lifestyle allows triglycerides to stay in the body, eventually accumulating in the organs. Performing physical exercises eliminates the substance before it can penetrate cells.

Medication use

Some medications can lead to the accumulation of fat in the liver. This is the case of tetracycline, an antibiotic, estrogens, which are hormones, and highly effective antiretrovirals, such as those used to treat HIV .

Groups of risk

Some people are more likely to develop accumulations of fat in the liver than others. Are they:

Obese

Overweight people have more fat in their bodies, and this applies to the organs. The liver of obese people has accumulation of fat and, depending on how the patient’s diet is, this accumulation can be large.

The obesity abdominal (large accumulation of fat in the abdomen) is clearly among the main causes that increase the risk of fatty liver.

Alcoholics

Excessive alcohol consumption overloads the liver and its cells can begin to accumulate fat, in addition to being damaged in other ways. Alcoholics are at risk for developing alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is the most serious version of the disease.

Sedentary

Exercises help eliminate fat from the body, using it as an energy source. This prevents fat from accumulating in the organs. Even if you are not overweight, if you are a sedentary person, the accumulation of fat can happen in your liver.

Metabolic syndrome

High blood pressure , insulin resistance and high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are connected with the accumulation of fat in the liver.

Women

Women are more likely to develop fat in the liver due to the hormone estrogen, which facilitates fat accumulation.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

There are studies that link polycystic ovary syndrome to greater chances of developing fatty liver.

Pregnant

Pregnancy causes the production of several hormones in the female body. Estrogen, which is normally produced, reaches higher rates during pregnancy, and can facilitate the accumulation of fat in the pregnant woman’s liver.

Hispanic and Oriental

People of Hispanic and Eastern ethnicity are more likely to develop fat in the liver, unlike people of African origin, who are less likely to have a fatty liver.

Symptoms

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Liver steatosis itself does not cause any noticeable symptoms. It is just the accumulation of fat in the liver and is rarely noticed by the patient.

Approximately 30% of the population has the disease, but it is imperceptible and the patient does not know he has it, discovering it by chance in other tests. However, hepatic steatosis is a previous stage of steatohepatitis.

When large and prolonged, the accumulation of fat can cause inflammation of the liver. That’s when the first symptoms appear.

Inflammation can cause liver tissue damage, creating fibrosis, which characterizes the disease’s progression to steatohepatitis. It is a serious condition and needs to be treated.

Hepatic steatose

In the beginning, with the inflammation still mild, the symptoms are milder, but evolve over time. Are they:

Abdominal pain and discomfort

Inflammation can cause pain and discomfort that can be felt by the patient.

Loss of appetite

Appetite is reduced and there may be slight weight loss as a result.

Tiredness and weakness

The inflamed liver can cause weakness and tiredness .

Liver enlargement

Inflammation increases the liver. It is possible to notice this increase in imaging exams such as ultrasounds.

Advanced steatohepatitis

If left untreated, steatohepatitis advances and can cause more serious symptoms.

Fibrosis

Fibrosis occurs when there is scar tissue in the organ. The liver must be smooth and malleable. If scar tissue appears in it, it loses its malleability and part of its function.

Fibrosis may appear in greater amounts over time. When the liver is completely covered by fibrosis, it loses function and the condition progresses to liver cirrhosis.

Liver failure

Due to inflammation and scar tissue, the liver may fail to function properly, leading to liver failure.

Ascites

Ascites is what is called the accumulation of fluid within the abdominal cavity and this can be caused by inflammation of the liver.

After progressing to cirrhosis, the risk of ascites is even greater. 85% of cases of abdominal fluid accumulation are caused by liver cirrhosis.

Encephalopathy

Encephalopathy is any disease that affects the brain. The liver is one of the organs responsible for cleaning the blood. If it doesn’t work properly, toxins can build up in it.

The blood then transports the toxins to the brain, which can cause dementia, seizures , mental confusion, coma and even death.

Bleeding

Inflammation of the liver can cause internal bleeding that is difficult to notice. They can become bleeding.

Vascular spiders

Small dilated vessels in the spider-shaped skin may appear, hence the popular name of the condition, called telangiectasia. They can develop anywhere on the body, but they are more common on the face, the whites of the eyes (sclera) and the legs.

Jaundice

Among the materials that the liver processes is bilirubin, a pigment that the body produces on its own. Due to inflammation, the liver cannot process bilirubin and it accumulates in the blood. This build-up can turn the skin and whites of the eyes yellow.

How is the diagnosis of fatty liver made?

Gastroenterologist and general practitioner doctors can diagnose liver steatosis. In most cases the fatty liver is found through laboratory and imaging tests that looked for other conditions, since it is common that there are no symptoms.

However, after finding this suspicion, the doctor needs to perform the differential diagnosis , which seeks to differentiate the type of existing disease, since several of them have similar symptoms. Some tests can be done to find fatty liver:

Physical exam

Based on the patient’s history and complaints of symptoms, the doctor can perform a physical examination for signs. In the case of fatty liver, the doctor may feel the liver slightly larger than normal, in addition to its texture and if the touch causes pain.

The physical exam is not accurate and serves to raise suspicions that should be investigated through other exams.

Bloodtests

Blood tests can show certain changes in the bloodstream and can raise suspicions of certain diseases, but it is not yet an accurate enough test for a complete diagnosis of fatty liver.

Imaging exams

Imaging exams are ideal for identifying swelling, changes in the size and texture of the liver, and other changes.

Ultrasonography, magnetic resonance and computed tomography are especially useful tests to find changes in the liver. However, in some cases, the diagnosis may need further specification.

Biopsy

The biopsy is performed with the removal of a small piece of the organ to be examined through an incision. The cells will be carefully analyzed for changes so that the diagnosis can be made.

The problem with the biopsy is that it is a relatively invasive test and requires the patient to rest for a few days to prevent bleeding.

Transient elastography

An examination that in many cases can replace biopsy in the search for liver diseases such as fat in the liver, steatohepatitis and cirrhosis, transient elastography works as an ultrasound that is also able to identify the elasticity of the liver and the amount of accumulated fat.

It is advantageous because it is painless and non-invasive, bringing the same result of a biopsy for fatty liver. This test can identify the accumulation of fat, the stage of accumulation and whether fibrosis exists.

Can hepatic steatosis be cured?

Yes, hepatic steatosis is curable , as long as it has not been transformed into steatohepatitis, since fibrosis, in most cases, cannot be reversed .

The cure for fatty liver involves reducing the accumulation of fat in the liver through changes in habit.

What is the treatment?

The treatment of fatty liver depends on its cause, which must be eliminated.

Reduce alcohol

Regardless of whether the condition is caused by alcohol, cutting alcohol consumption is necessary for the recovery of the liver. When it is the non-alcoholic variation , the reduction is enough. However, if the condition is the alcoholic variation  of the disease, it is necessary to have a total cut in alcohol consumption.

If the patient is an alcoholic, this can be difficult and treatment for the condition of alcoholism may be necessary. Alcoholism is a serious disease that needs treatment. In addition to being an addiction, the complete and sudden cutting of alcohol by someone dependent on the substance can be dangerous, since it is one of the few substances whose complete and sudden withdrawal can kill .

Physical exercises

Exercises must be performed to eliminate extra fat from the body and liver, in addition to lowering cholesterol.

Lose weight if it is above ideal

If the patient is overweight or obese, losing around 7% to 9% of weight over the course of 6 months helps to reduce the amount of fat. Losing too much weight too fast, however, can make the situation worse.

In addition, if your BMI is already healthy, it is not recommended to reduce weight further as this can also cause increased liver fat.

Food changes

It is important to avoid very fatty foods and sugars. Carbohydrates should be reduced in the diet, as well as red meats and fried foods. Fruits, vegetables and vegetables should be fed more frequently.

Medications for liver steatose

There are some medications that can be used for fatty liver. However, their results are discussed in medicine and they are not indicated in most cases.

  • Metformin hydrochloride ;
  • Vitamin E ;
  • Vitamin C ;
  • Losartan Potassium .

Attention!

NEVER  self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Home Remedies

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There are a few options for home remedies for fatty liver. Remember that these treatments are not scientifically proven  and medical treatment is still needed.

Certain medicinal plants have the effect of helping with the digestion of fats and lowering cholesterol. They can help to control liver fat.

  • Artichoke;
  • Jaborandi;
  • Boldo;
  • Black pick.

It is possible to drink teas from all these plants. To make the tea, mix the herb with 200 ml of very hot water.

Living together

Living with liver disease may not be easy, but making a habit of eating healthy helps to prevent both diseases and symptoms.

The diet should have a reduction in fat and an increase in the amount of fiber. The goal is to make the liver have to work less and reduce the amount of fat in the patient’s body.

What can

Foods with fiber

Too many carbs can be harmful to those with fat in their liver, but that doesn’t mean they need to be cut. Whole grains are rich in fiber and help the digestive system to eliminate fats and glucose. Breads, rice and wholegrain pastas are indicated.

In addition, you can also eat cereals such as oats and granola, which are also high in fiber.

Fruit

Every kind of fruit is welcome. They serve as a source of energy and do not worsen the condition of the liver, facilitating the work of the organ.

Vegetables

Spinach, lettuce, kale and other vegetables are highly recommended to replace fatty foods.

meats

Meats should be reduced in food, but they do not need to be cut. Give preference to grilled meats and do not eat the fat  because, with the fatty liver, it can be harmful.

What can not

You should avoid fatty foods such as sausage, sausage, ham, cheeses (especially yellow ones that are higher in fat), mayonnaise, butter, sausages, oilseeds (for example nuts and peanuts), among other fatty foods.

You can’t use too much oil. Typically, olive oil is seen as a type of healthy fat, but in the case of the fatty liver patient, any type of fat can be harmful and must be cut or reduced.

You can eat meat, but not fat .

Alcohol

You cannot  drink while treating fatty liver. Alcohol is the main cause of the condition and must be completely cut from the diet.

Tobacco

Tobacco does not cause fat in the liver, but it is recommended to stop smoking to facilitate the recovery of the organ. Cigarettes are bad for the whole body and the reduction of fats and scarring of the liver are compromised with smoking .

Exercises

It is important to perform physical exercises to prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver and the whole body. Hiking and jogging are recommended. They burn fats and allow for a healthier life.

Prognosis

It can be expected that, with the necessary changes in habit, there will be complete recovery of the patient’s liver, which should be completely healthy after treatment.

Even if the condition is discovered in grade 3, it is possible to have a cure. The problem does not begin to approach permanent until fibrosis begins to appear.

Complications

The disease can progress to liver cirrhosis . Liver cirrhosis is characterized by scar tissue covering the liver completely, causing severe weakness and even complete loss of organ functions.

It is a terminal illness and without cure and the only chance for the patient is a liver transplant.

How to prevent liver steatose?

Prevention of hepatic steatosis can be achieved through healthy eating, moderation of alcohol consumption and physical exercise. In addition you can:

Monitor abdominal circumference

Keeping the waist circumference below 88 cm in women and below 102 cm in men ensures that the amount of abdominal fat is healthy.

Maintain a healthy weight

Keeping the BMI in the ideal range is the best way to maintain physical health. BMI is calculated using the following account:

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Mass is the person’s weight in kilograms. Height is measured in meters.

BMI must be between 18.5 and 25 to be considered ideal. Above 25 you are overweight, below that you are underweight.

Drink a lot of water

Keeping your body hydrated helps keep you healthy.

Have a healthy sleep

Sleep is extremely important for health. In the case of fatty liver, lack of sleep hinders the effectiveness of insulin, which can lead to fatty liver.


Liver steatosis is a symptomless disease that many people have and do not know, and it is possible that no consequences will come out of it. However, it can evolve into really serious diseases like liver cirrhosis.

You can prevent this disease through healthy eating and exercise.

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