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Fatty Foods Lead to Fatty Liver Disease

Most people associate liver disease with a person who consumes excessive amounts of alcohol overtime; however, there are many types of liver disease, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease - which is also just known as fatty liver disease.
Most people associate liver disease with a person who consumes excessive amounts of alcohol overtime; however, there are many types of liver disease, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease - which is also just known as fatty liver disease. Currently, 31 percent of Americans have fatty liver disease based on recent studies. Since this disease is so prevalent, Dr. Dustin Case from Mount Nittany Physician Group's Gastroenterology Department, was here to talk more about it.

The following includes questions and answers addressed in this segment:

Question: What is fatty liver disease?
Answer: The liver is the largest organ in the body and filters harmful substances from the blood, makes substances that digest food and changes food into energy. When you develop any type of liver disease, the organ stops functioning properly.

Fatty liver disease is one specific type of liver disease and is used to describe the buildup of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol.

Fatty liver disease is common, affecting approximately 31 percent of the general population. It typically does not cause any symptoms or complications; however, some individuals experience inflammation and scarring of the liver from the fat accumulation. In the most extreme cases, fatty liver disease can progress to liver failure.

Question: If most cases of fatty liver disease are asymptomatic, how do people typically find out they have the disease?
Answer: Most cases of fatty liver disease are found during routine testing. During blood work, liver panels are drawn. When people have fatty liver disease, their results will show elevated liver enzymes, which means there is inflammation in the liver. An ultrasound is then performed to pick up the fatty inflammation around the liver. If the ultrasound shows inflammation is around the liver, an imaging procedure like an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI can be used to diagnose fatty liver disease.

Some patients do experience symptoms of fatty liver disease, including fatigue, pain in the right upper abdomen and jaundice; however, symptoms usually appear only when fatty liver disease is far advanced.


Question: What causes fatty liver disease?
Answer: It occurs when the liver has trouble breaking down fats, causing fat to accumulate in your liver tissue.

What exactly causes fatty liver disease is unclear, but there are many types of factors that increase your risk of developing it. One of the biggest risk factors of fatty liver disease is obesity. Approximately one-third of Americans are obese, so it's no surprise that so many people also suffer from fatty liver disease. Other risks include type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and malnutrition.

Due to the nation's obesity rate, studies show that in the future, fatty liver disease will surpass hepatitis C as the #1 cause of liver transplants.

Question: How is fatty liver disease treated?
Answer: Lifestyle modification is one the best ways to treat fatty liver disease. For individuals who are obese, it is recommended they lose 10 percent of their body weight to treat the disease. Eating a healthy diet that's rich in fruits and vegetables and participating in at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week can help you meet this goal.

Also, to prevent a secondary insult from occurring in your liver, it's recommend that you abstain from alcohol and receive the Hepatitis A and B vaccination.

Question: Are there any ways to prevent the development of fatty liver disease?
Answer: To help lower your risk of developing fatty liver disease, I'd recommend maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet. Following these guidelines will also help lower you risk of developing many types of diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and more.

For community members who would like more information on fatty liver disease, visit Mount Nittany Health's website at mountnittany.org.
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