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What's fatty liver?

Fatty liver is also known as NASH, which stands for non- alcoholic steatorrhoeic hepatosis or non-alcoholic fatty liver Disease (NAFLD). Fatty liver is the collection of excessive amounts of triglycerides and other fats inside liver cells. Fatty liver disease can range from fatty liver alone (steatosis) to fatty liver associated with inflammation (steatohepatitis).

This condition can occur with the use of alcohol (alcohol-related fatty liver) or in the absence of alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).

Also called steatosis, fatty liver can be a temporary or long-term condition, which is not harmful itself, but may indicate some other type of problem. Left untreated, it can contribute to other illnesses. It is usually reversible once the cause of the problem is diagnosed and corrected. The liver is the organ responsible for changing fats eaten in the diet to types of fat that can be stored and used by the body. Triglycerides are one of the forms of fat stored by the body and used for energy and new cell formation. The break down of fats in the liver can be disrupted by alcoholism, malnutrition, pregnancy, or poisoning. In fatty liver, large droplets of fat, containing mostly triglycerides, collect within cells of the liver. The condition is generally not painful and may go unnoticed for a long period of time. In severe cases, the liver can increase to over three times its normal size and may be painful and tender.

Fatty liver associated with the use of alcohol may occur with as little as 10 oz of alcohol ingested per week. Identical lesions also can be caused by other diseases or toxins. If steatohepatitis is present but a history of alcohol use is not, the condition is termed nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Fatty change in the liver results from excessive accumulation of lipids within hepatocytes. It is recognized on liver biopsy specimens and thus is a morphological rather than a clinical diagnosis.

More information on fatty liver

What's fatty liver? - Fatty liver disease can range from fatty liver alone to fatty liver associated with inflammation. Fatty liver is the collection of excessive amounts of triglycerides and other fats inside liver cells.
What causes fatty liver? - The most common cause of fatty liver is alcoholism. Conditions that can also cause fatty liver are other forms of malnutrition, obesity, diabetes mellitus.
What're the symptoms of fatty liver? - Fatty liver usually produces no symptoms. Symptoms that occur less often in alcoholic fatty liver are nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.
How is fatty liver diagnosed? - A physical examination that reveals an enlarged liver without any other symptoms suggests fatty liver. A liver biopsy can be used to confirm fatty liver.
What's the treatment for fatty liver? - Treatment for fatty liverinvolves correcting the condition that caused fatty liver and providing supportive care.
What is acute fatty liver of pregnancy? - Liver failure, usually from unknown cause in late pregnancy, is referred to as acute fatty liver of pregnancy. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005