what is it and how to avoid it?

During the holidays, sugars, fats and being sedentary become a habit. These habits can cause health complications or diseases, including fatty liver. A condition that affects more than 20% of the adult population and that has worsened after the excesses of the summer.

Fatty liver and health: what is it and how to avoid it?

Liver ultrasound. EFE/Manuel Bruque.

Fatty liver or metabolic hepatic steatosis (EHmet)it is the liver disease that most frequently affects the health of the adult population.

“It is a pathology that does not present symptoms, and is diagnosed in many cases in a routine analysis when the transaminase index is measured or in an abdominal ultrasound requested for another reason,” explains the Doctor Marta Abadia, hepatologist and specialist in the digestive system of the Medical-Surgical Center for Digestive Diseases.

What causes it?

As the name suggests, it is generated when there is an excess of fat in the hepatocytes. Foods rich in sugars and calories, along with alcohol, are the main causes of this disease.

Holidays and summer increase the intake of products with more sugar, such as ice cream, soft drinks, and encourage greater alcohol consumption, such as beers, wine, among others; due to high temperatures.

Amounts of alcohol consumption often reach harmful limits by exceeding 20 grams in women and 30 in men.

“If we add to this that we also tend to lead a more sedentary life, it is common for fatty deposits in the liver to increase,” says the expert.

When is it more common?

Fatty liver usually predominates more in men than in women, and in general, from the age of 40, where other factors such as obesity or diabetes mellitus (an alteration in blood sugar) can influence.

In some cases, although less frequent, fatty liver disease could occur in children, from the age of ten.

Fatty liver health
Doctor Marta Abadia, hepatologist and specialist in the digestive system. Image provided by CMED.

Metabolic hepatic steatosis

Metabolic fatty liver disease, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, is more common than alcoholic liver disease because there are more patients who are overweight or obese than patients who practice harmful alcohol consumption.

It is usually associated with metabolic syndrome, a group of disorders that occur at the same time and that promote the risk of heart disease, diabetes, among other health problems. Although leading a life with unhealthy habits can also lead to the development of the disease.

When monitoring the course of the disease, it is essential to check through other medical tests if there is also inflammation in the liver (steatohepatitis) and fibrosis.

Risks of fatty liver

Fatty liver disease can lead to other, more serious health problems. As the Doctor explains: “the presence of fatty liver is also associated with an increase in cardiovascular risk with a greater risk of heart problems (angina or heart attacks) or cerebrovascular accidents, which are the main cause of death in these patients”.

Although in principle it is not too serious a pathology, if it is not treated properly, it could turn into liver cirrhosis, the last stage of liver damage. As well as developing multiple complications, such as liver cancer or even the need for a liver transplant.

Treatment and prevention

To find out if you suffer from fatty liver, a simple visit to the specialist will be enough to find out.

On the other hand, no drug has yet been confirmed to be effective against it, so the best solution both to treat it and to prevent it is to lead a healthy life.

Weight loss, control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Having hypertension under control, as well as doing physical exercise alongside a good diet; are the essential factors to have this disease under control.

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