Fatty liver disease: Symptoms of non-alcoholism include dull or painful ribs near the ribs
Fatty liver disease is a generic term for an accumulation of fat in the liver. One of the most common types is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is usually seen in overweight or obese people.
The condition is very pernicious as it can lead to liver failure but it is marked by an absence of symptoms at first.
It is estimated that in the UK, up to one in three people have early stages of NAFLD, where there are small amounts of fat in the liver.
However, as the disease progresses, the body may undergo more sinister changes.
According to the Paddington Green Health Center, people with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or fibrosis (more advanced stages of NAFLD) may experience a dull or aching ache on the lower right side of the ribs.
READ MORE: Fatty Liver Disease: Expert Shares Four Lesser Known Symptoms Your Liver Has Problems
According to the NHS, NAFLD is often diagnosed after a blood test called a liver function test produces an abnormal result and other liver conditions, such as hepatitis, are ruled out.
But blood tests don’t always detect NAFLD.
As the NHS explains, the disease can also be detected during an ultrasound of your belly.
This is a type of analysis where sound waves are used to create an image of the inside of your body.
“If you are diagnosed with NAFLD, further tests may be needed to determine your stage,” adds the NHS.
Am I in danger?
Experts are not sure why some people accumulate fat in the liver while others do not.
Likewise, it is difficult to understand why certain fatty livers develop an inflammation that progresses to cirrhosis.
However, the complication has been linked to a number of markers of chronic disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, both NAFLD and NASH are linked to the following:
- Overweight or obese
- Insulin resistance, in which your cells do not absorb sugar in response to the hormone insulin
- High blood sugar (hyperglycemia), indicating prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
- High levels of fats, especially triglycerides, in the blood.
“These combined health issues appear to promote the deposition of fat in the liver,” says the Mayo Clinic.
“For some people, this excess fat acts as a toxin for the liver cells, causing inflammation of the liver and NASH, which can lead to a buildup of scar tissue in the liver.”
A wide range of diseases and conditions can increase your risk for NAFLD, including high cholesterol, he adds.