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Hepatitis Health Center

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Fatty Liver Disease

Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

You might have fatty liver disease and not realize it. There are often no symptoms at first. As time goes on, often years or even decades, you can get problems like:

  • Feeling tired
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion, poor judgment, or trouble concentrating

You might have some other symptoms, too. Your liver may get larger. You could have a pain in the center or right upper part of your belly. And the skin on your neck or under your arms may have dark, colored patches.

If you have alcoholic liver disease, you may notice that the symptoms get worse after a period of heavy drinking.

You could also get cirrhosis, a scarring of your liver. When that happens, you might have:

  • Buildup of fluid in your body
  • Wasting of your muscles
  • Bleeding inside your body
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Liver failure

Diagnosis of Fatty Liver Disease

You might find out that you have the disease when you get a routine checkup. Your doctor might notice that your liver is a little larger than usual.

Other ways your doctor might spot the disease are:

Blood tests. A high number of certain enzymes could mean you've got fatty liver.

Ultrasound. It uses soundwaves to get a picture of your liver.

Biopsy. After numbing the area, your doctor puts a needle through your skin and takes out a tiny piece of liver. He looks at it under a microscope for signs of fat, inflammation, and damaged liver cells.

Treatment of Fatty Liver Disease

There is no specific treatment. But you can improve your condition by managing your diabetes, if you have it.

If you have alcoholic liver disease and you are a heavy drinker, quitting is the most important thing you can do. Talk to your doctor about how to get help. If you don't stop you could get complications like alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis. 

Even if you have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, it can help to avoid drinking. If you are overweight or obese, do what you can to gradually lose weight -- no more than 1 or 2 pounds a week.

Eat a balanced and healthy diet and get regular exercise. Limit high-carb foods such as bread, grits, rice, potatoes, and corn. And cut down on drinks with lots of sugar like sports drinks and juice.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on July 09, 2014
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