A fatty liver occurs when the liver stores too much fat. For most people, a fatty liver causes no symptoms or serious liver damage. However, when left undiagnosed and untreated, a fatty liver worsens over time and may cause liver inflammation and scarring. But with the right care, you can heal a damaged liver. Gateway Gastroenterology in Chesterfield, Missouri, specializes in diagnosing and treating fatty liver. Call the office or request an appointment online today.
Fatty liver, or steatosis, means there’s an accumulation of fat in the liver. Your liver is part of your digestive system. It stores energy, makes proteins, and removes toxins from your blood.
A healthy liver stores a small amount of fat. When the fat content reaches 5-10%, you have a fatty liver. In most cases, this extra fat doesn't affect the normal functions of the liver. However, a fatty liver worsens over time, causing inflammation, scarring, and, eventually, cirrhosis.
But when found and treated before there’s any serious liver damage, fatty liver is reversible.
There are two types of fatty liver: nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease.
NAFLD is a type of fatty liver disease not related to alcohol consumption. Researchers theorize that excess fat accumulates from many factors, including lifestyle and medical history. Obesity and diabetes increase your risk of NAFLD.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease, or alcoholic steatosis, occurs from heavy alcohol consumption. Your liver metabolizes most of the alcohol you drink, which is harmful to the liver. Over time, the excess alcohol damages the liver, leading to inflammation and liver damage.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease is the first sign of liver damage from alcohol.
A fatty liver develops without causing symptoms. If you have concerns about the health of your liver, schedule a consultation at Gateway Gastroenterology.
Before running any tests to diagnose fatty liver, your gastroenterologist at Gateway Gastroenterology does a complete history and physical exam. They also run blood work to check liver function.
If they suspect fatty liver, they may recommend imaging tests like an ultrasound or CT scan. They may also take a biopsy of the liver to assess the damage.
Treatment for fatty liver depends on the severity of the liver damage. However, abstaining from alcohol is a typical recommendation, even for people with NAFLD.
Gateway Gastroenterology also recommends lifestyle changes to improve liver health, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight loss. Making these changes gives your liver a chance to heal.
To find out more about fatty liver, call Gateway Gastroenterology or request an appointment online today.