Fatty liver disease is the name for a number of liver diseases caused by the accumulation of fat. Also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, it often shows no symptoms and causes no harm in its early stages. However, as the disease progresses, serious side effects can occur.
The liver is a vital organ and performs over 500 functions such as processing digested food.
Therefore, any liver problems can become dangerous.
If left untreated for some time, fatty liver disease can lead to its most severe stage, known as cirrhosis.
After years of inflammation, the liver becomes bumpy and scarred.
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The British Liver Trust explains: “Cirrhosis is the result of long-term, continuous damage to the liver and can be caused by many different causes.
“Damage leads to scarring known as fibrosis. The smooth tissue of the liver is replaced by irregular bumps (nodules) and the liver becomes firmer.
“Together, scarring and nodules are called cirrhosis of the liver.”
According to the trust, one of the symptoms of the late stage of liver cirrhosis is tachycardia.
This is the medical term for a very fast heartbeat, especially when it’s beating at over 100 beats per minute.
For comparison, a normal heart rate is considered to be between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
Trust says it’s a sign that the liver is “struggling to function.”
He urges you to see a doctor if you experience this and/or other symptoms of fatty liver disease.
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Other later signs of liver cirrhosis include:
- Severe itching of the skin
- Yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
- white nails
- The tips of the fingers become wider/thicker (toes)
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, feet (edema)
- Bloating (ascites)
- dark urine
- Forgetfulness, memory loss, confusion and drowsiness
- With trembling hands
- Staggering gait when walking; tendency to fall.
Early stage symptoms include:
- As a rule, poor health and constant fatigue.
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss and muscle wasting
- Nausea (nausea) and vomiting
- Soreness/pain in the liver
- Spider-like small blood capillaries on the skin above waist level (spider angiomas)
- Spotted red palms
- Disturbed sleep pattern.
Trust also lists some “worrisome” symptoms.
“If you have any of the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately, especially if you have recently been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver,” it says.
- Fever with high fever and chills, often caused by infection
- Vomiting blood
- Very dark or black tarry stools
- Periods of confusion or drowsiness.
Trust adds: “While these symptoms may seem very different, since your liver is responsible for many different functions, if it stops working properly, it can lead to a number of problems.”
There are certain factors that increase the risk of developing fatty liver disease.
These include if you:
- Obesity or overweight
- you have type 2 diabetes
- Have a condition that affects how your body uses insulin
- Insulin resistance, such as polycystic ovary syndrome
- Have an underactive thyroid gland
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome (combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity)
- over 50 years old