Is life worth living? Well, it all depends on the liver, as a famous psychologist once said and it is frightfully true. Liver is the most vital organ of our body and should be taken care of as our very survival depends on it. May be you’ve ever come across the term Hepatic steatosis (generally called fatty liver) and want to know how to treat this condition. If so, you have come to the right place. In this article we are going to discuss every detail about what this is, its symptoms and treatments and how to manage it if you are affected by this malady. So, let’s get started!
Hepatic steatosis happens when extra fat accumulates in the liver. It is basically building up of fat in the liver cells that can cause severe complications especially in case of obesity, alcohol inebriation (an excessive consumption or intoxication of alcohol) or some hepatic diseases (for example type2 diabetes). Hepatic steatosis is either isolated called pure steatosis or it is linked with hepatitis. According to a Harvard health publishing journal, it now affects from 20 to 40 percent of the USA population. (1)
Usually, people suffering from fatty liver do not experience any symptoms. It is diagnosed accidentally for the first time during an imaging study such as MRI, scanning or abdominal ultrasound.
Symptoms of hepatic steatosis
Most of the time, hepatic steatosis shows no visible symptoms. But you may feel restless or experience tenderness or pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen.
Some people suffering with hepatic steatosis also tend to develop other complications such as hepatic fibrosis also called liver scarring. If you develop severe hepatic fibrosis, it is known as hepatic cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis may cause symptoms such as:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Itchy and yellow skin
- Yellow eyes
- Web-like clusters of blood vessels under the skin
- Stomach discomfort
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling of the legs
- Breast enlargement in men
Cirrhosis is a somewhat life threatening condition depending on the severity of symptoms. Consult your doctor and get the information you need, to recognize and manage it.
Causes of hepatic steatosis
Hepatic steatosis starts developing when your body produces too much fat or does not metabolize enough fat as it should. The excess fat is stored inside the hepatic cells, where it piles up and causes hepatic steatosis disease.
This accumulation of fat can take place by so many reasons. Such as:
- Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol is a leading cause of alcoholic hepatic steatosis. It is the first stage of a hepatic health issue due to alcohol. In people who do not consume a lot of alcohol, the risks of liver diseases are very low.
Other factors related to hepatic steatosis are following:
- Being overweight
- High blood sugar levels
- Insulin resistance
- Increased levels of fats (cholesterol), especially triglycerides in the blood
Some rare causes of fatty liver are:
- Sudden weight loss
- Hepatitis C
- Side effects of some other medications e.g. methotrexate, tamoxifen, amiodorone and valproic acid.
- Exposure to certain allergens or toxins
- Certain genes may also raise your risk of developing fatty liver.
Diagnosing of fatty liver
For diagnosis of this medical condition, your doctor will take your medical history, perform a physical exam and tell you to do one or more screening tests.
If your physician suspects that you might have hepatic steatosis, he will ask you the following questions:
- Family disease history including any history of liver disorders
- How much alcohol you consume
- Your lifestyle habits
- Any other medical condition, if you have one
- Medicines that you might take already
- Any recent changes related to your health
- If you are experiencing any symptoms of fatigue, loss of appetite.
To check out hepatic inflammation, your physician may press or palpate on your abdomen. If he suspects any enlargement, he might be able to feel it.
However, it is possible for your liver to be swollen without being enlarged. Your physician will not be able to confirm the exact issue just by touch. Therefore, he will ask you for lab tests.
In few cases, hepatic disease is diagnosed after blood tests show elevated levels of liver enzymes. For instance, your doctor tells you to do the alanine aminotransferase test (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase test (AST) to check your liver enzymes.
These tests will be recommended in case if you have developed symptoms indicating to liver disorder or he may order these as part of your routine check-up.But increased liver enzymes are a sign of liver infection or inflammation. Hepatic steatosis disease is one of the potential causes of liver swelling, but it is not the only one.
If you tests show that your liver enzyme levels are raised, your doctor will prescribe you a few confirmation tests to identify the cause of the inflammation.
Your doctor may use one or more of the imaging tests mentioned below to identify the problem with your liver.
- MRI scan
- CT scan
There is another technique known as vibration controlled transient elastography (VCTE, FibroScan). In this test, low frequency sound waves are used to measure hepatic stiffness. It can help to check for liver cirrhosis.
A hepatic biopsy is considered the best way to identify the liver problem and its’ severity.
During a liver biopsy, an expert physician is required to do this procedure; he will insert a needle inside liver and remove a piece of tissue to examine it. you will be given a local anesthetic before doing this to reduce the pain.
This test can help to diagnose if you are suffering from hepatic steatosis or cirrhosis.
Treatment for hepatic steatosis
Many research projects are in progress to develop and test medications to treat this disease.
Ayurvedic medicine to treat hepatic steatosis
An ayurvedic supplement formula - GC Tablets is helpful to relieve the symptoms of hepatic steatosis and cirrhosis.
The formula is designed to help rejuvenate the liver cells and reinstate the normal function of the liver. The chemical substances in this medicine stimulate the production and secretion of growth hormones (GH) which aid liver cells regeneration. The active ingredients present in this supplement have liver protective, antioxidant and anti-cholestatic traits which can all work together to promote healthy liver and gallbladder function.
In Ayurveda, the principal is to select the various herbs in specific quantity to design a medicine formula. It is a 3000 years old practice where the emphasis of treatment is on the following:
- Treating root cause
- Ensuring minimal or no side effects
- Avoiding the recurrence of problem
Grocare products are manufactured with this same emphasis . These tablets are used in many medical conditions, whenever the focus is on liver, kidney, gallbladder, spleen, blood purification and all inflammatory conditions inside the body. You can read more about this supplement here
Active ingredients of the supplement
Below is the list of important herbal constituents that are present in this medicine. One pertinent thing to note here is that it is the combination that is more beneficial for optimum results than the individual herbs.
Dosage and Side Effects
1 tablet twice a day while eating your meal or as indicated in applicable disease medication.
There is no evidence of any side effects due to this medicine if you take it within the prescribed dosage limit. However, it may cause slight darkening of stool or difficulty in bowl movements which is normal and does not require any medical treatment. You can consume it safely if you are diabetic or hypertensive. Women who are pregnant can also take this medicine without any worry. It does not cause any harm to the fetus. Adverse effects related to this medicine are very rare.
Sometimes, lifestyle changes can prove to be helpful in reversing fatty liver disease. Otherwise, it will at least reduce the further complications if you do this as an adjunctive therapy with treatment.
- Avoid taking alcohol
- Regular walk or exercise to lose weight
- Make changes to your diet plan
If you have already become a victim of these complications such as liver cirrhosis, your doctor will recommend an additional treatment depending upon the severity of the matter. For example, they might prescribe other medications or surgery to treat cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis is life threatening in severe cases. It can lead to hepatic failure.
According to a few studies, vitamin E supplements might help prevent or treat liver damage caused by hepatic steatosis. However, more research is needed. There are some potential health hazards associated with consuming too much vitamin E without any check.
Always talk to your pharmacist or physician before you try a new medicine or supplement or even a home remedy. Some supplements or natural remedies might put pressure on your abdomen and liver or interact with the medicines you are already taking.
Diet plan for hepatic steatosis disease
If you have hepatic steatosis, your doctor or nutritionist might advise altering your diet routine or making a few adjustments in your diet to help treat the disease and lower your chances of further complications. For example, they might suggest you to do the following:
- Eat plant based foods because they are rich in fiber, minerals and low in calories such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Especially if your body metabolic rate is low.
- Limit your consumption of processed foods and carbohydrates, such as candies, white rice, white bread and other refined grain products.
- Limit your consumption of fried foods and fatty foods such as red meat and many other animal origin products e.g. dairy items.
- Avoid taking trans fats which are present in many processed foods and ready to eat snacks.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
- Your doctor will advise you to cut calories from your diet and lose some weight. Talk to him freely and ask more about the other dietary changes that might be helpful to you to manage this disease.