Fatty liver occurs as result of the accumulation of fat in the liver. Normally, there is some fat stored in your liver. But when fat accounts for 5-10 percent of the liver’s weight, it could be a health issue. Poor food habits, alcohol intoxication, and sedentary lifestyle are the leading causes of a fatty liver disease. However, fatty liver in men is a reversible health condition and with lifestyle changes, you can resolve it.
Fatty Liver Symptoms
As the second largest organ, the liver is responsible for processing everything you consume and then filtering out toxins from the blood. If too much fat accumulates on the liver due to obesity, this process could be interrupted.
There are no specific symptoms of fatty liver. However, if there is excess fat in the liver, it could result in inflammation, fatigue, weight loss, poor appetite, confusion, and abdominal discomfort. An enlarged or fatty liver in men can be detected during a physical exam by a doctor.
Besides, fatty liver in men can be diagnosed with the following:
- Blood tests that check for levels of liver enzymes
- Imaging tests, including ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI, which look for signs of fatty liver
- Liver biopsy or tissue examination to see if there is damage to the liver tissue or scarring
If fatty liver in men progresses to cirrhosis, liver cells are damaged. The liver is no longer capable of rebuilding and regenerating new cells. Repeated damage causes permanent scarring. This condition is known as cirrhosis.
Some of the symptoms of fatty liver failure include:
- Jaundice of the skin
- An enlarged, fluid-filled abdomen
- Yellowing of the eyes
- Bleeding more easily
- Confusion and behavioral changes
Fatty Liver Causes: Lifestyle, Diet, Hereditary
Fatty liver is caused when the body cannot fully metabolize fat. As a result, the excess fat is stored in liver cells, resulting in fatty liver disease. A high-fat and high-sugar diet can contribute to fat buildup.
Alcohol is one of the leading causes of hepatic steatosis or fatty liver. If you indulge too much in alcohol, you are at a high risk of fatty liver disease. Heavy drinking can interfere with the normal functioning of the liver. A damaged liver is not able to function as usual, so it cannot break down fat. If you practice abstaining from alcohol, the fatty liver could subside, with the fat buildup slowly starting to disappear. The situation could improve within six weeks if you continue to abstain from alcohol. Contrarily, cirrhosis could develop with long-term alcohol abuse.
Besides alcohol abuse, other causes of fatty liver in men and women may include:
- Fatty diet – The consumption of excess calories overwhelms the ability of the liver to metabolize fat, resulting in the fat buildup.
- Obesity– An obese person is at a high risk of fatty liver because the primary cause of obesity and high triglycerides is fat accumulation in the body. Excess fat deposits cause fat to become metabolically active, resulting in the production of several proteins and hormones in the blood. This can have different effects on cells. Insulin resistance may result from this altered functioning of cells. Similar to other cells in the body, the functioning of liver cells also face the impact, and they increase their uptake of fatty acids from the blood. The liver changes these fatty acids to fat, which is then stored in the liver. This increases the risk of fatty liver disease, as there is a reduction in the functioning of the liver to dispose of fat deposits.
- Genetics– Some genetic factors may make you vulnerable to the disease and cause fatty liver symptoms. For example, the Hispanic people are more likely to have liver problems, including fatty liver.
Fatty Liver Causes: Health Problems, Medical Conditions
- Diseases– Metabolic diseases, such as Type II diabetes, may contribute to fatty liver. At least 50% of people with Type II are at a risk of developing fatty liver. When the body of a diabetic person is no longer able to metabolize glucose from the blood, it triggers a state of alarm. The functioning of different cells in the body is altered. Fat cells begin to release fatty acids, some of which is converted to fat in the liver. The excess is deposited in the liver.
- Medical conditions– People suffering from certain medical conditions, such as malnutrition, may be at a high risk of fatty liver. Rapid weight loss is another causative factor for the fatty liver disease. If you go on a crash diet suddenly, your body could go into starvation mode, which may signal the liver to accumulate fat when you are on a diet. If you have insulin resistance, you could be prone to the nonalcoholic fatty liver. Additionally, high levels of LDL or bad cholesterol or triglycerides could raise your risk for the disease.
- Medications– Certain medications, including tamoxifen, methotrexate, glucocorticoids, Tylenol, a synthetic estrogen, and aspirin, can trigger fatty liver disease if overdosed because they interfere with the normal functioning of the liver.
- Gallbladder removal – If you have had gallbladder removal surgery, you may be vulnerable to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
NASH means there is inflammation of the liver or damage to liver cells. If you have NASH, you may have such symptoms as:
- Enlarged blood vessels
- Swollen belly
- Red palms
- Larger than normal breasts in men
If you fail to go for timely fatty liver treatment, it may lead to liver cirrhosis. If not treated in time, fatty liver in men can cause:
- Liver cancer
- Fluid deposit in the abdomen
- Hepatic encephalopathy, with common symptoms including drowsiness, confusion, and slurred speech
- Swelling and/or rupture of veins in the esophagus
- Bleeding from the veins
- End-stage liver failure
Unfortunately, about 20 percent of people suffering from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis symptoms progress to liver cirrhosis.
Fatty Liver Treatment and Prevention
You can lower your risk of developing cirrhosis or managing a fatty liver in men by taking the following steps:
- Maintain a healthy weight
Since obesity is a risk factor in the development of fatty liver, your focus should be to reduce your daily calorie intake and get more exercise. Regular exercise is critical to weight management. It will help reduce the fat deposits in your body and thus reducing your risk of fatty liver disease.
- Choose a healthy diet
The nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is commonly associated with reduced intake of unsaturated fats and an increased consumption of fructose. It might help to go for a diet low in saturated fat and fructose.
A balanced, healthy diet can help cut down your risk of developing the fatty liver disease. Your focus should be on adding more color and plant-based food to the table, such as fruits and vegetables. Include whole grains, complex carbs, high fiber foods, and healthy fats.
Some studies link omega-3 fatty acids and a reduction in fatty liver symptoms.