Liver usually has little or no fat. But when large vacuoles of triglyceride fat accumulate in liver cells, it is called a fatty liver condition. This happens due to abnormal retention of lipids called steatosis. Steatosis indicates a condition where the liver is inflamed. In steatosis, triglycerides and lipids accumulate in the liver.
In most cases, fatty liver does not present any symptoms. Steatohepatitis occurs when there is inflammation and cell death. When fatty liver disease is in an advanced stage, the patient experiences fatigue, weakness, weight loss and right-upper-quadrant abdominal pain.
Fatty Liver diseases
Non-alcoholic fatty liver: NAFLD can be treated with lifestyle changes.
Non-alcoholic steatorrhoeic hepatitis: NASH needs medical attention lest it deteriorate into liver cirrhosis and even hepatocellular carcinoma, if left untreated. It is often referred to as 'silent' liver disease.
Persons who lack exercise, are obese and who partake a high fat diet are prone to fatty liver. Diabetes and high alcohol intake are other contributory causes for fatty liver. Hypertension, abdominal obesity with BMI over 26 and insulin resistance are other contributory factors to a fatty liver. Liver function test, liver ultrasound and liver biopsy might be done to detect the degree of liver malfunction. Metabolic syndrome, rapid weight loss and protein malnutrition are other contributory factors.
A healthy lifestyle with regular exercise is vital to tackle fatty liver disease. Cholesterol and blood pressure will need to be monitored and treated. Lose weight in a healthy manner and increase physical activity levels.
Hepatomegaly refers to abnormal swelling of the liver. On palpation of the right side of the abdomen, if the liver extends below the ribs, it indicates an enlarged liver. Hepatitis indicates general inflammation of the liver. If both the liver and spleen are enlarged, the condition is called Hepatosplenomegaly.
Possible causes of Hepatomegaly include:
- Fatty Liver
- Congestive Heart Failure CHF
- Niemann Pick Disease
- Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
- Reye syndrome
- Alcohol Use
- Sclerosing Cholangitis (inflammation of bile ducts resulting in scars)
Most people suffering Hepatomegaly do not have any noticeable symptoms. Some experience fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and pain on the right side of the abdomen. Diagnostic tests such as abdominal ultrasound, Liver Function Test and abdomen MRI are suggested.
Jaundice is a condition where the concentration of bilirubin in the blood and tissues increases far more than normal concentration. The person notices yellowish tinge to skin, eyes and mucus membrane. The urine becomes dark and the stools become clay-colored due to lack of bile pigments.
Pre-hepatic jaundice: Occurs due to malaria, thalassemia, Gilbert's syndrome or sickle cell anemia.
Intra-hepatic jaundice: Occurs due to liver conditions such as hepatitis, leptospirosis cirrhosis or fatty liver disease. Neonatal jaundice is usually of this kind.
Post-hepatic jaundice: Occurs due to bile obstruction into the digestive system; usually due to gallstones. Pancreatitis or biliary strictures can lead to obstructive jaundice.