Fatty Liver Disease: Symptoms and Causes


According to a 2019 study, the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the general population of the Philippines ranged from 9% to 53%. Additionally, it is the most typical form of liver disease worldwide! 

Continue reading if you want to learn more about this illness. We will go into more detail about the symptoms, causes, forms, and therapies of fatty liver disease in this post.

What function does the liver serve?

The liver is the second-biggest organ in the human body and the largest gland. It performs the following crucial functions.

  • Iron storage
  • Synthesis of proteins
  • Creation of bile, a process essential to digestion
  • Transforms nutrients through processing into energy.
  • Purges the blood of waste, dangerous microorganisms, and toxic chemicals.

Fatty Liver Disease: What Is It?

Hepatic steatosis, commonly known as fatty liver, is a word used to describe the buildup of fat in the liver. Small levels of fat in the liver are natural, but too much can have detrimental effects on health.

Fatty Liver Stages

Usually, fatty liver does not pose a life-threatening concern. However, it might be fatal if it progresses to the final stage (cirrhosis). The various phases of fatty liver are listed below.

  1. Simple Fatty Liver: At this point, the liver has a fat buildup, which is typically not harmful.
  2. Steatohepatitis: At this stage, the liver is inflammatory in addition to being too fatty.
  3. Fibrosis: At this point, the liver has scarred as a result of ongoing inflammation, but it is still able to function normally.
  4. Cirrhosis: This is the final stage, where the liver has developed such extensive scarring that it no longer functions properly. The most crucial and irreversible of the four stages is this one.

What are the types of fatty liver?

The two basic kinds of fatty liver disease are as follows.

Alcohol Fatty liver disease brought on by alcohol (AFLD)

As the name suggests, AFLD is brought on by binge drinking. Typically, there are no symptoms of inflammation or other adverse effects in the early stages of this disorder. 

The phrase “basic alcoholic fatty liver” describes this stage. However, there is another stage where inflammation coexists with the accumulated extra fat. 

The term “alcoholic steatohepatitis” refers to this stage (ASH). ASH can cause liver fibrosis and later cirrhosis if not treated in a timely manner.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

This type of fatty liver disease affects those who do not drink alcohol, as its name might imply. Even without the influence of alcohol, fat builds up on the liver in this state. When liver inflammation coexists with fat buildup, this disorder enters its next stage. 

The term “nonalcoholic steatohepatitis” refers to this stage (NASH). NASH can cause liver fibrosis and subsequently proceed into cirrhosis and liver failure if it is not appropriately treated.

Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy (AFLP)

Fat builds up in the liver as a result of the uncommon but deadly illness known as AFLP, usually during the third trimester of pregnancy. If left untreated, AFLP can lead to major health issues for both the mother and her child. 

Your doctor might attempt a quick delivery if you unluckily learn that you have AFLP while pregnant. A few days after the delivery, you might also need follow-up medical care, and the issue will probably go away in a few weeks.

Fatty liver disease warning signs and symptoms

The symptoms of AFLD and NAFLD typically don’t appear until the cirrhosis stage. The following fatty liver symptoms can, however, be seen in some people even in the early stages.

  • Loss of weight
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Continent pain
  • Swollen legs and abdomen

The key Fatty Liver Disease symptoms that might be observed at the cirrhosis stage include the ones listed below.

  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • A buildup of fluid in the abdomen
  • Gray stools
  • Confusion
  • Male breast enlargement
  • Urine with a dark color
  • Skin itch
  • Reduced appetite
  • Easy bruising

How is Fatty Liver Disease brought on?

As was already indicated, excessive alcohol use is the root of AFLD. However, it is unknown what specifically causes AFLP and NAFLD. However, the following are hypothesized causes of fatty liver in people based on risk factors.

  • Insulin resistance
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Genetic factors
  • High quantities of fat in the blood, especially triglycerides
  • Side-effects of medication
  • Hepatitis C
  • Pregnancy

The Diagnosis of fatty liver disease

The tests listed below are frequently used to identify fatty liver disease.

  • Blood tests: Elevated liver enzyme levels are a reliable sign of liver inflammation. Therefore, to examine this, doctors typically conduct blood tests.
  • During a physical exam, doctors may press on the body’s belly to feel for liver enlargement.
  • During a liver biopsy, a doctor will enter a needle and remove samples of liver tissue to check for liver disease and scarring.
  • Imaging studies: To assess the state of the liver, doctors occasionally employ imaging tests like the MRI, CT scan, ultrasound, etc.

Fatty Liver Disease Remedies

There aren’t any drugs or therapies for fatty liver at the moment. However, by making a few lifestyle adjustments, this illness can be corrected in its early stages. 

Unfortunately, liver damage is permanent once the fatty liver disease reaches the cirrhosis stage. At this point, receiving a liver transplant is the only option.

Prevention of Fatty Liver Disease

The following are some approaches to stop the development of fatty liver disease based on its risk factors.

  • Aim to work out for 30 minutes each day.
  • Lose weight
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Reduce or avoid drinking alcohol.


Tips for a fatty liver diet

The following dietary recommendations can help prevent or treat fatty liver disease.

  • Consume foods from all the food groups as part of a balanced diet.
  • Follow your doctor’s advise and keep your alcohol intake under control.
  • Regularly drinking water is proven to maintain the health of the liver.
  • Reduce your intake of calorie-dense foods.
  • Consume foods high in fiber, such as whole grains and legumes.
  • Limit your intake of meals that include


Though its origin is uncertain, fatty liver disease may be influenced by a number of medical disorders given by a history of hospitalization and other factors.

Although there is no simple cure for fatty liver disease, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising frequently, and abstaining from excessive alcohol consumption can help or possibly prevent the condition.

A person should consult a doctor as soon as they can if they exhibit any symptoms of fatty liver disease.