Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol
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It can take years for fatty liver symptoms to develop, sometimes even decades. Though the slow progression of symptoms renders diagnosis a challenge some symptoms are reported early on. Upset stomach and nausea, for example, are among the most frequently reported symptoms of digestive dysfunction, and could signal that fatty liver disease is taking a turn for the worse.
The British Liver Trust explained: “Cirrhosis is the result of long-term, continuous damage to the liver and may be due to many different causes.
“The damage leads to scarring, known as fibrosis.
“Irregular bumps (nodules) replace the smooth liver tissue and the liver becomes harder. Together, the scarring and the nodules are called cirrhosis.”
According to research published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, the most commonly reported gastrointestinal symptoms in liver disease are abdominal bloating (49.5 percent), abdominal pain (24 percent) belching (18.7 percent), diarrhoea (13.3 percent) and constipation (8 percent).
Gastrointestinal dysfunction frequently occurs in liver cirrhosis and increases with disease severity.
More specifically, the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Digestive System explains that patients often report gastrointestinal motility, disrupted gut barrier function, increased intestinal permeability and malabsorption.
Not only does the presence of these gut abnormalities impair oral intake and lead to malnutrition, but they may also play a central role in many of the complications associated with liver cirrhosis.
Patients with advancing liver disease often report nausea and upset stomach as some of the first digestive complications, according to Hawaii Pacific Health.
“As your liver’s ability to eliminate toxins decreases, your digestive distress will likely increase,” says the health body.
“Ongoing nausea is a reaction to excess waste products in the body, and unexplained vomiting is often linked to liver problems.”
Very often patients report a loss of appetite alongside these digestive issues.
Hindered appetite tends to be the result of abnormal leptin and ghrelin levels, which translate to reduced food intake.
How to avoid fatty liver disease?
Adjusting lifestyle is a natural starting point for tackling the symptoms of fatty liver and preventing the onset of further complications.
Some studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet may also decrease the fat in the liver.
Harvard Health explains: “This nutrition plan emphasises fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, replacing butter with olive or canola oil, limiting red meat and eating more fish and lean poultry.”
The addition of coffee to the diet may also offer some benefits, as some studies suggest it may decrease the likelihood of fibrosis.
Weight loss is another important preventative measure as it reduces the amount of inflammation and injury to liver cells.
“It may even reverse some of the damage of fibrosis,” adds Harvard Health.
According to the health body, individuals should aim to lose around one to two pounds of fat per week, in a gradual manner.
Weight loss that is too rapid, however, could worsen symptoms of fibrosis and inflammation.
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