Decoding Fatty Liver: Causes, Signs and Management

Updated: Apr 13


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Fatty liver disease, also called hepatic steatosis, is a condition in which fat builds up or gets deposited in the liver. The liver is the second largest organ in the body after the skin. While minimal amounts of fat in your liver is normal, an excess of it can cause inflammation in the organ and affects its normal functioning.


You must know that there are two types of fatty liver disease– Alcoholic Fatty ( which develops in someone who drinks a lot of alcohol) and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver (which develops in people who don’t drink alcohol). Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects around 25% of people in the world and is commonly found in people who are obese, have type 2 diabetes, or have high cholesterol levels in their blood.


Let’s learn a bit more about fatty liver, its causes, and how to manage it in this article!


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Signs and Symptoms


Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease show similar signs and symptoms. Also, the symptoms you experience usually depend upon the stage of fatty liver disease that you may have.


Fatty liver disease goes through four stages –

  • Simple fatty liver

  • Steatohepatitis

  • Fibrosis

  • Cirrhosis


In the early stages, a fatty liver does not cause any symptoms. However, some people may develop complications like liver scarring or fibrosis. Severe fibrosis of the liver leads to cirrhosis and even liver failure.


Symptoms and signs of fatty liver usually appear in the cirrhosis stage and include:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Weight loss

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • Yellow, itchy skin

  • Pale stools

  • Dark urine

  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen

  • Enlarged blood vessels under the skin


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What are the Causes of Fatty Liver?

While the alcoholic fatty liver can be blamed on excessive consumption of alcohol, there are many other causes and factors that increase your risk for either type of fatty liver:


  • Being overweight or obese

  • Malnourished

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Insulin resistance

  • Excessive fats or triglycerides in the blood

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Side effects of some medications

  • Hepatitis

  • Family history of fatty liver


Other risk factors for fatty liver include:

  • Increasing age

  • Pregnancy

  • PCOS

  • Obstructive sleep apnea

  • Sudden or rapid weight loss


If you think you are at high risk of developing fatty liver, speak to your doctor. A thorough physical examination and some lab tests will help your doctor determine your liver health and your risk levels too.


Management and Prevention

There are no medications available today that can treat fatty liver. However, here are some lifestyle changes that can help your liver heal and reverse your fatty liver:


  • Avoid alcohol consumption.

  • Lose weight and maintain it within the normal range.

  • Increase your consumption of fiber which can be obtained from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Limit your consumption of sodium (salt), refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and trans fats.

  • Get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise every day.

  • Keep yourself hydrated as it keeps your liver healthy.


Though modern allopathic medicine has still no fatty liver cure, Ayurveda has been effective in the treatment and management of the condition. Two ayurvedic formulations called Rohitkarishta and aarogyavardhini vati are effective in the management of fatty liver and its symptoms. If you wish to explore these medicines for your fatty liver, consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner.


Key Takeaway!


Diagnosing fatty liver disease early helps to reverse it with the right lifestyle changes. Ignoring the symptoms or delaying treatment can result in damaging the liver further and may even lead to liver failure. It is highly recommended that you live a healthy lifestyle, and follow your doctor’s recommendation if you have other lifestyle diseases like diabetes. In fact, the primary treatment for fatty liver disease is making lifestyle changes.

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