People are told by their doctor that they have a fatty liver! Fatty liver is not a liver disease as such. It simply means there is more fat in the liver than normal. A person with a fatty liver is not necessarily ill.
Fatty liver can be caused by chemicals, nutritional and internal disorders. Internal disorders involve the the endocrine system which is a network system of organs involve the release of hormones.
Drugs or poisons that can cause fatty liver include alcohol, tetracycline, cortisone, phosphorus and carbon tetrachloride. Of these alcohol is by far the most common cause.
Nutritional causes of fatty liver are starvation diets, being over weight, and protein malnutrition. The endocrine disorder diabetes mellitus often leads to fatty liver.
Uncomplicated fatty liver does not usually produce symptoms because fat accumulates slowly. A doctor may be able to detect that the liver is enlarged by palpation (an examination by touch). He may also get you blood tested to discount any serious problem. Other tests such as ultrasound scan or CT scan can be done.
When the fat content is increased rapidly rather than slowly the liver expands, stretching its covering, and pain or discomfort results.
Fat enters the liver from the intestines and from the tissues. Under normal conditions, fat from the diet is metabolised by the liver and other tissues. If the amount exceeds what is required by the body it is stored. In obesity some of the fat accumulates in the liver.
Treatment of fatty liver is related to the cause. Underlying conditions such as diabetes must be discounted. Drugs or other chemical compounds thought to be responsible are eliminated. Nutritional causes are treated by altering the availability of fat coming into the liver.
Simple fatty liver is common. (In the US it is thought to occur in 1 in 4 adults.) Simple fatty liver is present when the fat content inside liver cells makes up more than 5-10% of the liver's weight. Simple fatty liver is not associated with serious damage or harm to the liver. It seems that the fat just builds up harmlessly in liver cells. It can occur for no apparent reason and because of this it is difficult to know how to change ones lifestyle. Both exercise and weight are important factors.
Simple fatty liver (also called 'hepatic steatosis')
Having a fatty liver does not harm the liver and does not stop you from liver flushing.