Fatty liver disease, also called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is a condition where too much fat is stored in the liver cells. Home healthcare services may be available for those who are suffering from fatty liver disease. Please read on to learn more about the condition, and contact United Energy Workers Healthcare if you have questions about home healthcare services covered under the EEOICPA/RECA programs.
What Is Fatty Liver Disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic (2019), NAFLD is a term that is used to refer to a range of different liver conditions; the main characteristics of fatty liver disease is that of too much fat being stored within the liver. Fatty liver disease is the main type of chronic liver disease in the United States and affects roughly 25 percent of the population.
Fatty liver disease can be very serious. When the condition advances, which is known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the liver will become very inflamed and cirrhosis (scarring) may result. In some cases, liver failure may occur. There is also a form of fatty liver disease called alcoholic fatty liver disease/alcoholic steatohepatitis. This disease results from alcoholism.
What Causes Fatty Liver Disease and Who’s at Risk?
MedlinePlus (2017) explains that experts do not know the precise cause of fatty liver disease, but that there have been some complications and factors that are more highly associated with fatty liver disease. Risk factors for fatty liver disease include:
- Type II diabetes;
- High cholesterol;
- Exposure to certain toxins;
- Hepatitis C infection;
- Metabolic disorders;
- Rapid weight loss;
- Use of certain medications.
In addition to the above, Hispanic people are more at risk of developing fatty liver disease than are non-Hispanic whites or African Americans. Those who are middle-aged or older are also more at risk, although it is possible to develop fatty liver disease in one’s younger years.
Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease
One of the complications of fatty liver disease is that it often has few or no symptoms, making it very hard to catch and diagnose. If there are symptoms, the symptoms will often resemble the symptoms of other conditions. That being said, common symptoms–when they appear–are abdominal pain, particularly in the upper right abdomen, and high levels of fatigue that are not explainable. If the condition is more advanced (NASH), symptoms are more obvious and acute and include swelling of the abdomen, enlarged blood vessels underneath the skin’s surface, an enlarged spleen, red palms, and jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes and the skin).
Treatment of Fatty Liver Disease
There are a variety of medical tools that can be used to diagnose fatty liver disease, including blood and imaging tests. In some cases, a biopsy of your liver may also be taken and tested in order to make a diagnosis. Additionally, your medical history and current symptoms, if any, will be reviewed.
MedlinePlus, cited above, reports that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease on its own will not cause liver failure; liver failure is the result of NASH. However, inflammation from NASH can indeed lead to serious cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis of the liver, in turn, can lead to the buildup of fluid in the abdomen, liver cancer, swelling of esophageal veins, and even hepatic encephalopathy, which is characterized by confusion, slurred speech, and drowsiness. As such, receiving treatment for NAFLD/NASH is of critical importance.
Some things that can help to prevent NAFLD from developing in the first place are eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. If you are diagnosed with NAFLD, treatment will probably involve weight loss and lifestyle changes, including diabetes management, exercise, dietary changes, reduced alcohol consumption, and cholesterol-lowering measures. If the condition has progressed, a liver transplant may be an option. However, this is reserved for the most serious of cases.
Get the Help You Need
If you are overweight or have a condition that could negatively affect your health and contribute to your risk of fatty liver disease, it’s important that you make lifestyle changes sooner rather than later and invest in yourself to get the help you need.
In some cases, no-cost home healthcare services may be available. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we offer free in-home healthcare services for those suffering from certain covered conditions. This is possible through the EEOICPA/RECA programs that are funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. To learn more about home healthcare for fatty liver disease, please call our team directly today or send us a message.
Mayo Clinic. (2019, August 22). Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354567
MedlinePlus. (2017, April 26). Fatty liver disease. Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/fattyliverdisease.html