Fatty liver: two changes in a person’s gait that may signal the liver is ‘fighting’

Liver disease can be caused by alcohol, drugs, and blood clots, but in most people, the disease is caused by a poor diet. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) already affects a large portion of the population, but evidence suggests these trends will increase in the coming years. Unfortunately, because the symptoms are mild at first, many do not know they are affected. However, as the condition progresses, patients with fatty liver may notice two changes in gait.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is considered one of the most common causes of liver disease in our time.

However, it is also one of the newest vascular risk factors for neurological disease.

When liver function is impaired, many factors can be affected, including behavior, mood, speech, sleep, and how a person moves.

People also notice an increase in sensitivity to drugs and alcohol, or a change in gait.

According to the Liver Trust, these later symptoms signal that the liver is “struggling to function.”

Two changes that a person may experience while walking are a staggering gait and a tendency to fall, explaining the health of the body.

A staggering gait—often described as an ataxic gait—means that walking is uncoordinated and seems out of order.

Many different movements can be described as ataxic if perceived by others as uncoordinated.

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In 2016, the Neurological Examination reported that patients with end-stage liver disease may develop a condition similar to Parkinson’s disease.

“Unlike Parkinson’s disease, it is characterized by rapid progression, early postural and gait disturbances. […]’, explains the magazine.

Although ataxia is often considered a sign of fatty liver disease, it can also be a risk factor for this condition.

In 2021, the Movement Disorders Clinical Practice reported that liver disease develops in the majority of people with ataxia-telangiectasia.

How to reverse fatty liver disease?

The British Liver Trust defines non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as a long-term condition caused by excess fat in the liver.

“It’s strongly associated with being overweight, as well as conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease,” the health organ explains.

As the condition progresses, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is diagnosed, indicating a more serious stage of the disease.

This is when the risk of liver cancer or liver failure increases substantially.

One of the best ways to stop the progression of fatty liver disease or avoid the condition altogether is regular exercise.

Performing a variety of moderate-intensity activities can improve liver health even if the body is not losing weight.

Other helpful measures include shifting the focus of your diet from fatty foods to anti-inflammatory foods.

A well-balanced diet low in fat, sugar and salt and high in fiber, vegetables and fruits is highly recommended.

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