Fatty Liver Disease: Part 1

The liver is the second largest organ in the body. Its function is to process everything we eat or drink and filter any harmful substances from the blood. This process is interrupted if too much fat is in the liver. Fatty liver is when fat accounts for more than 5 to 10 percent of your liver’s weight.

What are the causes of fatty liver?

The most common cause of fatty liver is alcoholism and heavy drinking. In many cases, doctors don’t know what causes fatty liver in people who don’t drink much alcohol.

Fatty liver develops when the body creates too much fat or cannot metabolize fat fast enough. The excess fat is stored in liver cells where it accumulates to form fatty liver disease. Eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet may not directly result in fatty liver, but it can contribute to it.

Besides alcoholism, other common causes of fatty liver include:

  • obesity
  • hyperlipidemia, or high levels of fats in the blood
  • diabetes
  • genetic inheritance
  • rapid weight loss
  • side effect of certain medications, including aspirin, steroids, tamoxifen (Nolvadex), and tetracycline (Panmycin)
  • high Blood pressure

What are the types of fatty liver?

There are two basic types of fatty liver: nonalcoholic and alcoholic.

Your doctor may use an ultrasound to detect fat in your liver. The fat will show up as a white area on the ultrasound image. Other imaging studies may also be done, such as CT or MRI.


 

 

Jennifer Heipel has approximately 12 years of experience working as a hepatology nurse/clinical research coordinator for several gastroenterologists, hepatologists, infectious diseases and addiction specialists. She is trained in the treatment of Hepatitis B and C therapies as well as general hepatology and pre/post liver transplant follow up. Jennifer serves as Charlton Health’s full time Hepatology Nurse and manages the Hepatology Program. She has worked and continues to work with Dr. Puglia at McMaster University and other area Gastroenterologists to develop a comprehensive, in-house Hepatology program and Hepatitis C program here at Charlton Health.

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