Fat accumulation/ hepatic steatosis is one of the most common abnormalities of the liver affecting ~25% of the population. Fatty Liver can lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis, if left untreated.
The most common cause of fatty liver is alcohol abuse. However, there are other causes of this condition, such as obesity and diabetes which are a contributing factor to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Causes of Fatty Liver
Fats are a source of energy for the body. They are absorbed through the digestive tract, stored and converted into fuel. However, when too many fats enter the liver, they can accumulate and cause fatty liver. Here are some possible causes of fatty liver:
– Consuming too much alcohol:
Excessive alcohol intake is a leading cause of fatty liver in adults who drink more than one drink per day. Alcohol also damages the cells that produce insulin to regulate blood sugar levels (hepatocytes).
More than 80% of people with type 2 diabetes will develop fatty liver disease at some point in their lifetime; it is not yet clear why this happens but genetic and environmental factors may be involved.
Fatty liver is more common in people who are overweight or obese, especially those with a high body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference.
Role of imaging and ultrasound to detect Fatty Liver
Imaging is used to detect fat deposits in the liver, determine cirrhotic changes, and exclude other possible diagnoses. Ultrasound findings of fatty liver/ hepatic steatosis include increased Liver echogenicity. Coarsened echotexture of the liver and nodular liver surface if steatohepatitis has progressed to cirrhosis.
It is possible to reverse fatty change with modification of the underlying cause, e.g., alcohol, pregnancy, obesity, diet, as long as hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis have not developed.
There are no medications to treat NAFLD, but a healthy diet and regular exercise can improve it. By losing 10% of your current weight, you can dramatically reduce the number of fat cells in your liver and reduce inflammation.