We all have witnessed a change in our lifestyle: sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, increased stress, consumption of high fat diet, & of course the magnanimous rise in alcohol consumption and smoking. All this has led to an increase in the lot of lifestyle disorders including liver diseases. Hepatitis and Fatty Liver are the most commonly occurring liver diseases in India.
Fatty Liver Disease
It is nothing but excessive accumulation of fat in the liver. Fatty liver disease has many causes linked to it. It is thus, classified based on the the cause.
Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Regular consumption of diet rich in fats causes NAFLD. Prolonged consumption of high fat diet (read junk food/carbonated drinks), and uncontrolled blood sugar level coupled with smoking can lead to it. It begins with the formation of fat droplets in the liver to causing liver fibrosis to end stage liver cirrhosis. It might begin as a silent disease but may eventually cause inflammation and liver cell damage. Coupled with obesity, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia, it can be a risk factor for stroke and other cardiac complications.
Symptoms of fatty liver include fatigue, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite leading to weight loss, and overall weakness.
Alcohol-related Liver Disease (ARLD)
refers to accumulation of fat and consecutively liver damage caused by excess alcohol intake.
Fatty liver doesn’t affect the proper functioning of the liver in the initial stages, but on prolonged accumulation of fat, it may hamper proper functioning of the liver leading to inflammation, tissue damage, fibrosis and Non Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
It denotes hepatitis which lasts for a shorter duration of time. Different strains of virus, each transmitted by different carriers, cause Hepatitis. Overdose or excessive consumption of drugs like paracetamol and exposure to some chemicals, also causes Acute Hepatitis. It is detected using liver function tests.
Few strains of viruses causing acute hepatitis are difficult to eliminate and may lead to long term or chronic hepatitis. Chronic alcohol consumption, viral infection, few autoimmune disorders and long term use of medications. cause Chronic Hepatitis. It eventually causes cirrhosis which is thickening and scarring of the liver tissue, leading to cell degeneration.
Symptoms of hepatitis include yellowing of the eyes, abdominal pain and dark urine. Alcoholic hepatitis may also cause swelling of stomach due to water retention.