Fatty liver

This text provides information in simple language on the topic: fatty liver.

What is fatty liver?

The liver is an organ in the abdomen: it is located in the upper abdomen to the right of the stomach.

The liver helps digest carbohydrates, fats, and protein. We ingest these substances with our food. The liver also regulates blood sugar. The blood sugar provides energy. And the liver filters harmful substances out of the blood. So the liver has very important functions in the body.

Sometimes the body stores too much fat in the liver. This can lead to fatty liver. Fatty liver is a disease.

What are the causes of fatty liver?

There are two forms of fatty liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver.

Alcoholic fatty liver

One cause of fatty liver is alcohol. Alcohol is broken down in the liver. Too much alcohol can damage the liver. Therefore, a man shouldn't drink more than a glass of wine or a bottle of beer a day. Half the amount can be harmful to a woman.

Does a person drink a lot of alcohol? Then the risk of fatty liver increases.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver

Fatty liver can have other causes as well. The most common causes besides alcohol are overweight and obesity. The doctor also says about obesity: obesity.

A lot of belly fat increases the risk of fatty liver disease. And children who are overweight can also develop fatty liver disease. People with type 2 diabetes develop fatty liver disease more easily than other people.

But people who are not overweight can also develop fatty liver disease. The reasons for this are, for example:

  • certain drugs
  • Liver diseases such as Wilson's disease
  • chronic intestinal diseases such as Crohn's disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy supports the treatment of cancer.
  • certain viral diseases such as hepatitis C.
  • Disposition. Do other people in your family have fatty liver? Then you, too, are more likely to develop fatty liver.

How can you recognize a fatty liver?

Most people with fatty liver have no symptoms. Sometimes the fat makes the liver enlarge and become heavier. Then sometimes complaints arise. These complaints include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • fatigue
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • nausea
  • Pressure in the right upper abdomen

However, these symptoms can also indicate another illness. That is why the doctor speaks of unspecific complaints here.

The doctor often discovers fatty liver by accident. The doctor may do an ultrasound scan of your abdomen for other reasons. In the case of fatty liver, the liver is enlarged on the images. Light spots from the fat can also be seen on the liver. The liver values ​​in the blood can also be abnormal.

Your doctor suspects: you may have fatty liver?

Then your doctor will do further tests on you. Sometimes the doctor will also take a sample of the liver tissue.

What can you do about fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver is not dangerous. But fatty liver can increase the risk of other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Sometimes the liver may then no longer be able to work properly. Therefore, the causes of fatty liver should always be treated.

Is Alcohol the Cause of Fatty Liver? Then affected people should stop drinking alcohol. Then the liver can become healthy again. Some people are addicted to alcohol. Do you often drink alcohol and cannot do without it? Then you should seek help. Talk to your doctor. Perhaps a self-help group can help.

Is Obesity the Cause of Fatty Liver? Then a healthy diet is very important. Eat lots of fiber and low in carbohydrates. Exercise regularly. Exercise about three times a week. Exercise more in everyday life. For example, take the stairs more often than the elevator.

Are you losing weight? Then the liver can recover. Losing around 500g to 1kg per week is healthy if you are overweight.

Where can you get more information?

Would you like to read more about fatty liver? You can find more information about fatty liver here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: This text only contains general information. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information. Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.