2014 Fatty Liver Disease

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1 2014 Fatty Liver Disease

2 Fatty Liver Disease Fatty liver disease happens when there is a buildup of extra fat cells in the liver. A liver is fatty when fat makes up 5-10% of the liver. Simple fatty liver disease is not cancer, but as fat builds up in the liver, scarring and swelling are likely to happen. Scarring and swelling can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Where is my liver? Liver Liver Gall bladder Bile duct Stomach 1

3 What causes fatty liver disease? Obesity is the #1 cause of fatty liver disease. Other possible causes are: Rapid (fast) weight loss, not eating enough, or not eating a balanced diet. Intestinal bypass surgery that can lead to rapid weight loss. Family history of liver problems. Drugs, chemicals, and/or alcohol. How does fat get into the liver? We don t know how fat builds up in the liver. The liver is the main organ in your body that breaks down fat into usable parts. When you eat more fat than your body can break down, it gets stored as fat in the liver. What is Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)? NASH happens when swelling is seen in a fatty liver, even when a person does not drink alcohol or drinks very little alcohol. Up to 20% of adults with NASH go on to get cirrhosis of the liver and almost 11% will die from a liver problem. Chronic liver failure may happen, which creates a need for a liver transplant. 2

4 What are the symptoms? You may or may not notice symptoms linked to your liver disease. If you do, they will likely be subtle and vague. Common symptoms include feeling tired and a dull pain in your upper, right stomach area. At a more advanced stage of fatty liver disease, you may have more severe symptoms: Lack of appetite or weight loss. Upset stomach, weakness, or feeling tired. Yellowing of your skin and eyes (jaundice). Dark-colored urine (pee). Loss of interest in sex. Fluid in your abdominal (belly) cavity (this condition is called ascites). Itching on your hands and feet and, over time, on your entire body. Swelling of your legs and feet from a buildup of fluid (edema). Mental confusion, such as forgetfulness or trouble thinking or focusing (this is called encephalopathy). Liver failure. 3

5 What are the causes? It is often hard to pinpoint the cause of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Health care providers tend to agree that there is a group of disorders that put you at a higher chance of getting it. These may include: Obesity/being overweight Diabetes High blood pressure One or more abnormal cholesterol levels Resistance to insulin (the body is not able to use insulin) Certain drugs and toxins have been linked to NASH (amiodarone, tamoxifen, steroids [prednisone] and pesticides) Fatty liver disease is often not noticed for a long time. Health care providers tend to think that a second hit is what causes cirrhosis to come about. These second hits can include bacterial infections or hormonal imbalances. The most important things you can do are: Do not drink alcohol. Follow a healthy lifestyle that includes eating well and getting regular exercise. 4

6 How is it diagnosed? This disease is found in people of all ages (including children). It is most common in people who are middle aged and overweight or obese. The early stages of fatty liver disease have no symptoms and are often left unnoticed. Fatty liver disease is more often spotted when a person receives abnormal results on liver tests done for a different medical problem. Because we are seeing more obesity today, fatty liver disease is being diagnosed more often. Because fatty liver disease often has no symptoms, your health care provider might find your illness during a routine medical exam. Your health care provider will likely want to rule out other liver diseases before deciding if it is fatty liver disease. They might test for hepatitis B and C, and ask you how much alcohol you drink. 5

7 When other diseases are ruled out, your health care provider will likely want to give you a series of tests if fatty liver disease is suspected. These tests might include: Liver function test: when a liver is harmed, it releases certain enzymes this blood test will look at your enzyme levels. Ultrasound: this non-invasive (does not enter the body) test uses sound waves to make an image of your liver on a screen. Your health care professionals study these pictures for signs of liver problems. Computerized topography: this test uses X-rays to make cross-sectional images (pictures in slices) of your liver. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): this test uses a magnetic field and radio waves to make images of your liver. Liver biopsy: a small sample of your liver will be taken out using a thin needle. This test is the only way to make an exact diagnosis. 6

8 What is the treatment? The best way to treat your fatty liver disease is to work on the cause of your problem. This could include one or more of the following: Weight loss Diabetes control Cholesterol control Avoiding of toxic substances (especially alcohol) Please use the space below as a worksheet to prepare for your next appointment and to help plan your fatty liver disease treatment strategy: Weight: Start date: Month: Weight: Exercise strategy*: Mon: Tues: Wed: Thurs: Fri: Sat: Sun: *Exercise at least minutes 3 times per week. Exercise examples: Walking Swimming Biking 7

9 Blood sugar: Medications taken for blood sugar (if any): Month: Blood sugar: Cholesterol: Medications taken for cholesterol (if any): Month: Cholesterol: Blood pressure: Medications taken for cholesterol (if any): Month: Blood pressure If you have any questions, please ask. We are here to help you. 8

10 Please use the space below to write down any questions you have: 9

11 Notes: Looking for more health information? Contact your local public library for books, videos, magazines, and other resources. For more information go to Capital Health promotes a smoke-free, vape-free, and scent-free environment. Please do not use perfumed products. Thank you! Capital Health, Nova Scotia Prepared by: Timothy Mombourquette (GI research student) Revised by: Caitlin Sinclair, BSc Research; Geri Hirsch, RN,NP Hepatology; Carla Burgess, RN,NP, Hepatology Illustration by: LifeART Super Anatomy 1 and 4 Images Copyright 1994, TechPool Studios Corp. USA Designed by: Capital Health Library Services, Patient Education Team Printed by: Dalhousie University Print Centre The information in this brochure is provided for informational and educational purposes only. The information is not intended to be and does not constitute healthcare or medical advice. If you have any questions, please ask your healthcare provider. WI Revised December 2014 The information in this pamphlet is to be updated every 3 years.

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