Fatty liver disease is a common chronic liver disease, especially in people with diabetes and overweight. Although the liver is the largest internal organ, locating your liver’s pain can be challenging. Therefore, the fatty liver has no significant symptoms.
However, it can lead to pain in the upper right part of the abdomen. Most of the time, you may not know you have fatty liver until a routine test shows signs of an abnormality. As a result, it’s easy to mistake fatty liver for pain in the stomach.
Fatty liver – an overview
The liver is a vital organ. Its functions include producing bile to aid in digestion, storing iron in the body, creating substances that aid in blood clotting, and fighting infections 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 condition caused by too much fat buildup in the liver. A healthy liver contains a small amount of fat. But when fat makes up 5% to 10% of the liver’s weight, it becomes a major problem.
Fatty liver: stages
according to an studiesFatty liver disease progresses in three stages. The first stage, called steatohepatitis, is when the liver becomes inflamed and begins to suffer damage.
The second stage, fibrosis, is when scar tissue begins to form around damaged areas. The third and most progressive stage, cirrhosis, is when extensive scar tissue replaces all healthy tissue and causes severe liver damage.
This hard scar tissue can slow down the functioning of the organ, which can lead to liver failure or liver cancer.
Pain intensity varies from stage to stage, with extreme pain in the final stage. In such cases, one may need strong painkillers to relieve pain when fatty liver progresses to cirrhosis or cancer.
Fatty liver: risk factors
Some risk factors make some individuals more susceptible to developing fatty liver disease. Among which:
Symptoms: Does fatty liver cause pain?
Fatty liver often has no recognizable symptoms or noticeable pain until it progresses to the final stage, cirrhosis. However, right upper abdominal pain, even mild, is a warning sign.
Children with fatty liver often experience pain in the upper right part of the stomach, directly below the ribcage. Adults experience pain when fatty liver progresses to the inflammatory stage, leading to liver enlargement.
However, this pain may 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 fatigue and fatigueWhile unexplained fatigue can be a symptom of many conditions, it is at the forefront of fatty liver disease.
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Swollen abdomen and extremities, also called edema.
- rapid weight loss
- Yellowish skin and whites of the eyes, also known as jaundice
The HealthifyMe note
While a fatty liver usually doesn’t cause any symptoms, it can cause a constant, dull ache in the upper right corner of your stomach or anywhere. You usually won’t have severe pain until your fatty liver has progressed to later stages. However, once the abdominal area starts to hurt, the pain can spread from your abdominal area and cause chronic weakness.
Treatment and prevention
Currently, there are no specific medications or treatments for fatty liver disease. However, depending on what stage of the disease a person 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 make the condition worse.
- Refraining from alcohol will help those individuals who are in the early stages of alcoholic fatty liver disease, such as inflammation or fibrosis. They may be able to reverse the damage to their liver or prevent it from getting worse. However, there is no complete reversal of cirrhosis of the liver in any case.
- Certain prescription medications can help with cirrhosis, as can surgical options. For example, a liver transplant is optimal if the liver goes into failure mode.
In addition, it is of utmost importance to make critical lifestyle changes to treat fatty liver disease. Among which:
- Avoid alcohol
- Eating a balanced diet
- Consume smaller portions of food
- regular exercise
Fatty liver usually does not cause any noticeable or specific symptoms, but abdominal pain is a common warning sign. A 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. Seek medical attention if you experience persistent pain in the upper right part of your abdomen.