FATTY LIVER

 

Fatty liver and weight-related conditions are on the rise in the UK. If you're worried, get your liver checked out with your GP. Fatty liver is also known as NAFLD or 'Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease'. We think this is an awful acronym and would love to see it changed. 

01

How do I know I have a fatty liver?

 

Although blood tests would have been undertaken, an ultrasound scan is used to confirm the diagnosis of a fatty liver. The liver is sometimes referred to as being “bright” if it contains fatty infiltrations.
 

 

02

Would I need to carry alot of weight, or look 'fat' to have a fatty liver?

 

Not necessarily. Some people are what we call TOFI (Thin Outside, Fat Inside).

03

What should I do if I have a fatty liver?

 

Your GP should investigate the cause(s) before advising you. They will ask you questions about your lifestyle and may refer you to a dietitian. Some people have a genetic predisposition for a fatty liver, so this will need to be discussed also. Generally speaking, if you can improve your diet and exercise regime, the fat in the liver should decrease. NB:

  • some medications are known to contribute to a fatty liver, e.g. methotrexate

  • Triglycerides are the main culprit towards the development of fatty infiltrations in the liver. (Our body produces triglycerides, but they are present in many foods and drinks – Omega-3 is said to help decrease triglyceride levels).

04

Will I be monitored and have a repeat ultrasound scan?

 

Yes, you should be carefully monitored and to have regular blood tests, particularly your lipid profile and Liver Function Test to keep a close eye on your ALT (alanine aminotransferase). A follow-up ultrasound scan after a few months will show improvements to the liver (if lifestyle changes have been observed).

If a person doesn’t know they have a fatty liver, they will not realise the risk of damage to their liver.  The fatty infiltrations will become worse and potentially develop into cirrhosis (severe, permanent liver damage).

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