Fatty liver disease is a common chronic liver disease, especially in people with diabetes and who are overweight. Even though the liver is the largest internal organ, it can be difficult to identify your liver pain. Therefore, fatty liver does not show significant symptoms.
However, this can lead to pain in the upper right region of the abdomen. Most of the time, you may not know you have fatty liver until a routine test shows signs of abnormality. As a result, it is easy to confuse fatty liver pain with stomach pain.
Foie Gras – An Overview
The liver is a vital organ. Its functions include producing bile to help with digestion, storing iron in the body, creating substances that help blood clot, and fighting infection by removing toxins from the blood. The liver also makes proteins for the body and converts nutrients into energy.
Fatty liver disease is a common health problem caused by too much fat in the liver. A healthy liver contains a small amount of fat. But when fat is 5-10% of liver weight, it becomes a significant problem.
Foie gras: stages
According to a study, hepatic steatosis evolves in three stages. The first stage, called steatohepatitis, occurs when the liver becomes inflamed and begins to suffer damage.
The second stage, fibrosis, is when scar tissue begins to form around the damaged areas. The third and most progressive stage, cirrhosis, occurs when extensive scar tissue replaces all healthy tissue, causing severe liver damage.
This hard scar tissue can slow the functioning of the organ, leading to liver failure or liver cancer.
The intensity of the pain varies from stage to stage, with extreme pain occurring in the last stage. In such cases, one might need strong analgesics to relieve the pain when the fatty liver progresses to cirrhosis or cancer.
Fatty liver: risk factors
Certain risk factors make some people more susceptible to developing fatty liver. These include:
Symptoms: Does fatty liver disease cause pain?
Fatty liver disease often has no recognizable symptoms or noticeable pain until it progresses to the final stage, cirrhosis. However, pain in the upper right part of the abdomen, even mild, is a warning sign.
Children with fatty liver often have pain in the upper right part of the stomach, which is just below the rib cage. Adults experience pain as fatty liver disease progresses to the inflammatory stage, resulting in an enlarged liver.
However, this pain can indicate other underlying conditions, so it’s best to see a medical professional as soon as possible and get proper treatment.
Some other symptoms to watch out for are:
- extreme tiredness and fatigue. Although unexplained fatigue can be a symptom of many conditions, it is at the forefront of fatty liver disease.
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Swelling of the abdomen and limbs, also known as edema
- rapid weight loss
- Yellowish skin and whites of the eyes, also known as jaundice
Note from The Fitness Freak
Although fatty liver usually doesn’t cause any symptoms, it can cause a constant, dull ache in the upper right part of your stomach or anywhere. You usually won’t have severe pain until your fatty liver has reached later stages. However, once the abdominal area starts to hurt, the pain can spread from your belly area and cause chronic weakness.
Treatment and prevention
Currently, there is no specific medication or treatment that responds to fatty liver disease. However, depending on what stage of the disease an individual is in, they may try to reverse it as best they can.
- Losing weight is the best option to reduce the progression of this disease. However, losing weight too quickly can end up making the situation worse.
- Abstaining from drinking alcohol may help people who are in the early stages of fatty liver disease, such as inflammation or fibrosis. They might be able to reverse the damage done to their liver or prevent it from getting worse. However, there is by no means a complete reversible cirrhosis of the liver.
- Some prescription medications can help with cirrhosis, as well as surgical options. For example, a liver transplant is optimal if the liver goes into failure mode.
Additionally, making critical lifestyle changes to treat fatty liver disease is of the utmost importance. These include:
- Avoid alcohol
- Have a well-balanced diet
- Consume smaller portions of food
- Regular physical activity
Fatty liver usually doesn’t cause any overt or specific symptoms, but abdominal pain is a common warning sign. Simple fatty liver usually does not cause pain in the early stages.
However, it can progress to inflammation, cirrhosis, or damage, which can cause severe pain. See a doctor if you have persistent pain in the upper right part of your abdomen.