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What Exactly Is Fatty Liver?

April 19, 2021

 

During health screening, some of you may have heard your doctor use the term “fatty liver”. What exactly is fatty liver? In short, it is the excessive build-up of fat in liver. Having small amount of fat in the liver is normal, but too much can be a health problem. Fatty liver can be due to excessive alcohol intake, in which case it is known as alcoholic fatty liver disease. In someone who does not consume large amounts of alcohol, it is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This article will focus on NAFLD.

 

NAFLD causes no symptoms in most cases and hence usually is detected on health screening or on tests done for other reasons.  Blood tests would usually show elevated liver enzymes and abdominal ultrasound would show fatty infiltration of the liver.  Causes of NAFLD include obesity, high level of fats, especially triglycerides, in your blood and high blood sugar.

 

Is NAFLD dangerous? Generally speaking, NAFLD is not dangerous. It is largely regarded as a reversible disease. However, after many years with it, there is a significant risk of progression to a severe form of irreversible liver disease known as liver cirrhosis, which is beyond the scope of this article.

 

 

First line treatment of NAFLD is usually weight loss through a combination of a healthy diet and exercise. Ideally, a 10% weight loss is desirable, but improvements are apparent at even 3-5% weight loss off starting weight. Eat a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and keep track of all calories you take in. Aim for at least 30mins of exercise for most day of the week. Other steps to reverse and control the disease include controlling your cholesterol and sugar levels if needed. Unfortunately, there are currently no drugs approved for the treatment of NAFLD.

 

In most cases, NAFLD is reversible through lifestyle changes and control of other risk factors. However, if left unchecked, it can cause inflammation, permanent damage to your liver, and potentially irreversible scarring known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis increases one’s risk of liver cancer and liver failure. For best outcome, it is important to work closely with your physician and follow his/her recommendations.

 

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Healthsprings was established in 2000 with its first medical clinic located at Bukit Panjang. In 2001, the company ventured into the medical aesthetic field and has been offering Lasers, Peels, Fillers, Botulinum Injections and other aesthetic services. In 2008, Healthsprings Laser and Aesthetic is opened in Orchard Road and has been known to specialise in different aesthetic procedures for the skin, face, body, and hair.

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