Fatty liver disease: Sign in your vomit that could signal most severe
Liver disease: Doctor discusses causes and symptoms
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Like any medical condition, spotting the symptoms of fatty liver disease sooner rather than later gives you a better chance of being successfully treated. And although there are some symptoms you would associate with the liver – such as jaundice (yellowing skin) and abdominal pain – there are others you might not. One such symptom is vomiting “large” amounts of blood.
According to the Mayo Clinic, this is a sign of the swelling of veins in your oesophagus (oesophageal varices), which can then rupture and bleed.
This can be a sign of cirrhosis, or liver scarring, which is the most severe stage of liver disease.
Other symptoms of ruptured veins in the oesophagus are:
- Black, tarry or bloody stools
- Loss of consciousness in severe cases.
The clinic warns: “Oesophageal varices usually don’t cause signs and symptoms unless they bleed.”
Cirrhosis occurs after a long period of inflammation of the liver.
The Mayo Clinic says: “Cirrhosis occurs in response to liver injury, such as the inflammation in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (an aggressive form of fatty liver disease.
“As the liver tries to halt inflammation, it produces areas of scarring (fibrosis).
“With continued inflammation, fibrosis spreads to take up more and more liver tissue.”
If cirrhosis isn’t stopped it can then lead to swollen oesophageal varices as well as a number of other problems, including:
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen (ascites)
- Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
- Liver cancer
- End-stage liver failure, which means the liver has stopped functioning.
In its early stages fatty liver disease “usually” causes no signs and symptoms.
However, if it does these are most likely to include fatigue and pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen.
The most common signs of cirrhosis include abdominal swelling (ascites), enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface, an enlarged spleen, red palms and jaundice.
The Mayo Clinic advises to book an appointment with your doctor if you notice any of these as “persistent” symptoms.
Although it is not exactly clear why someone might develop a fatty liver, there are certain things that raise your risk.
The clinic lists these as:
- Being overweight or obese
- Insulin resistance, in which your cells don’t take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin
- High blood sugar (hyperglycaemia), indicating prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
- High levels of fats, particularly triglycerides, in the blood.
“These combined health problems appear to promote the deposit of fat in the liver,” it says.
“For some people, this excess fat acts as a toxin to liver cells, causing liver inflammation and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which may lead to a build-up of scar tissue in the liver.”
To reduce your risk of developing fatty liver disease, the clinic recommends eating healthily, losing weight if you are overweight and exercising more frequently.
It says: “Choose a healthy plant-based diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.
“If you are overweight or obese, reduce the number of calories you eat each day and get more exercise.”
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