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Fatty Liver: Cause, Symptoms & Management

By: Dr. Naresh Bhat

Fatty liver is a simple terminology for fatty liver disease (FLD) or hepatic steatosis. Some amount of fat being present in the liver is normal; however, when this exceeds 5%-10% of the organ's weight, you are at the risk of developing FLD.

There might be several causes for fatty liver, but the key reason behind this is the consumption of alcohol.

The liver is the second largest organ in the body and it plays a vital role in processing all that you eat or drink. It also helps to filter any harmful substances from the blood.

Too much of fat in the liver hinders the above-mentioned processes in the body. Though there is no inflammation caused by fatty liver, it might be dangerous if not diagnosed and treated properly.

what are the causes of fatty liver

In alcoholics, the most obvious cause for fatty liver is heavy drinking. In non-alcoholics, the reasons could be many and are often difficult to be identified by the doctors as well.

However, it is understood that the causes for fatty liver in non-alcoholics are predominantly due to obesity and diabetes. Identifying symptoms and managing fatty liver is therefore very essential.

This article helps you to understand the causes of fatty liver, the symptoms, management and treatment for fatty liver, which is needed at the right time to prevent a hazardous condition.


As already mentioned, alcohol is very injurious to liver health. Besides this, there are several other reasons for fatty liver such as obesity, diabetes and genetic inheritance.

Hyperlipidaemia, which refers to a high level of fat in the blood, can also be a reason for fatty liver. There are certain medications which we consume with or without the doctor's advice and which are prone to giving us side effects.

One such side effect of these medications can be fatty liver. Taking more than the recommended doses of medication can also lead to fatty liver. Other major factors for this disease can be malnutrition and sudden/rapid loss of weight.

In certain women, it is also seen that pregnancy leads to the development of fatty liver.

what are the causes of fatty liver


Common symptoms of fatty liver include sudden loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, fatigue, severe pain the abdominal region, etc. Sometimes, jaundice, which causes yellowing of the skin, can also be a symptom of fatty liver.

Based on these symptoms, there are several diagnostic methods such as physical examination, liver biopsy, blood tests and ultrasounds to confirm if you have FLD.

Management & Treatment For Fatty Liver:

Negligence of FLD can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding, liver cancer, mental changes and even failure in the functioning of the liver. Hence, protecting your liver is one of the best ways to avoid this disease.

Reducing certain risk factors, as recommended by the doctor, can help to treat fatty liver. For alcoholics, no doubt, stopping alcohol consumption will automatically help reduce liver fat.

For obese people, the best recommended tips are weight loss and healthy eating habits. Physical activity and exercise can also help here.

Eliminating foods that are high in cholesterol and sugar can help reverse the effects of fatty liver. It is always recommended to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat to avoid or reverse the development of FLD.

Fortunately, most of the cases of fatty liver do not develop into a liver disease, hence following the above-mentioned tips can help get rid of it forever.

Article compiled by Archana Mukherji

MD (General Medicine), DM (Gastroenterology)
He is currently the Chief of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at the Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore
Read more about: liver, symptoms
Story first published: Wednesday, June 22, 2016, 13:10 [IST]
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