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Hepatitis Health Center

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Fatty Liver Disease

Some fat in your liver is normal. But if it makes up more than 5%-10% of the organ's weight, you may have fatty liver disease. If you're a drinker, stop. That's one of the key causes of the condition.

There are two main types of fatty liver disease:

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  • Alcoholic liver disease (ALD)
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

You can also get fatty liver disease during pregnancy.

Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD)

You can get alcoholic liver disease from drinking lots of alcohol. It can even show up after a short period of heavy drinking.

Genes that are passed down from your parents may also play a role in ALD. They can affect the chances that you become an alcoholic. And they can also have an impact on the way your body breaks down the alcohol you drink.

Other things that may affect your chance of getting ALD are:

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

It's not clear what causes this type of fatty liver disease. It tends to run in families.

It's also more likely to happen to those who are middle-aged and overweight or obese. People like that often have high cholesterol and diabetes as well.

Other causes are:

  • Medications
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Autoimmune or inherited liver disease
  • Fast weight loss
  • Malnutrition

Some studies show that too much bacteria in your small intestine and other changes in the intestine may be linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy

It's rare, but fat can build up in your liver when you're pregnant. This could be risky for both you and your baby. It could lead to liver or kidney failure in either of you. It might also cause a serious infection or bleeding.

No one fully understands why fatty liver happens during pregnancy, but hormones may play a role.

Once you get a diagnosis, it's important that your baby gets delivered as soon as possible. Although you may need intensive care for several days, your liver often returns to normal in a few weeks.

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