Fatty liver and Fibrosis are two separate medical conditions that often occur in patients who suffer from fatty liver disease. Fatty Liver may be managed without the need for surgery, but Fibrosis is a more severe condition that requires surgery if it progresses to an advanced stage. So what is the link between these two? This article explores this question revealing the bridge from one to the other.
What Is Fatty Liver
Fatty Liver is also known as fatty hepatic steatosis, Alcoholic fatty liver syndrome, or steatohepatitis. It may occur when too much fat accumulates in the cells in the livers due to a high intake of alcohol, steroids, fatty diets, obesity, diabetes, and hereditary factors.
The liver is an organ that functions to help the body metabolize foods into essential nutrients for energy. When fatty liver occurs, the fatty acids accumulate in the cells, which disrupts this process. The fatty acids are not harmful in normal amounts but increase substantially with alcohol intake because the liver cannot break them down as it would normally do.
Alcohol intake also causes cell damage by its toxic nature, which can lead to the death of certain liver cells if there is a continued high level of alcohol consumption over time. Fibrosis may develop when the fatty liver has been occurring for long periods causing chronic inflammation due to cell death and being replaced with scar tissue known as fibrotic tissue. This results in reduced function in some areas of the liver, and fatty deposits may also accumulate in other organs, e.g., fatty muscles, pancreas, heart, etc.
What Is Fibrosis
There are different stages of Fibrosis that complicate treatment as there are risk factors associated with each stage. In early-stage 1 fibrosis, fatty liver cells have started to die, causing the fatty acids to accumulate in the liver cells and further cell damage due to toxic levels of fatty acids. Some fatty tissues may start to replace damaged or dead cells, which become scarred. As a result, it is hard for blood vessels to pass through these areas if fatty tissues block blood flow, resulting in increased oxygen required by those organs for their function.
In later stages, 2-4 Fibrosis fatty liver areas may be replaced with scarred fatty tissues. Stages 5-6 Fibrosis, there is a high risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) if fatty liver disease is not detected and managed before this stage.
Symptoms associated with Fibrosis: Fatigue, Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin), loss of appetite, itchy skin, abdominal pain, weakness, or being lightheaded when standing up suddenly.
Diagnosis Methods For Fatty Liver And Fibrosis
Fatty Liver disease can be diagnosed through several tests, including blood tests to measure enzymes indicative of fatty liver damage and ultrasound scans to detect fatty deposits In liver tissue. If Fibrosis has not yet developed, fatty liver disease can be reversed by implementing a strict fatty diet for between 6-12 months, stopping alcohol consumption, and taking medications to help remove fatty acids from the body.
On the other hand, Fibrosis cannot be reversed, but it can be controlled with medication. The fatty liver disease must be diagnosed early so fatty deposits do not damage the organs beyond repair by causing Fibrosis leading to further complications.
Treatment Options For Fatty Liver Disease
There are various treatment options available depending on how badly fatty tissue has affected certain areas of the liver. Reducing or removing alcohol intake is important if the fatty liver has been caused due to excessive alcohol consumption.
Medications can be taken to reduce fatty acids in the liver and help remove them from the body. One example of this treatment is Asacol (Mesalazine) which helps reduce inflammation in fatty tissues and improves liver function.
If Fibrosis has developed, medications are available that prevent further damage to the liver but cannot reverse fatty deposits already formed or replace damaged liver cells.
How Is Fatty Liver & Fibrosis Connected
Fibrosis is often caused due to prolonged lack of treatment for fatty liver disease in the early stages or because of fatty liver disease, which is not detected and left untreated. One or more of these factors may contribute to the development of Fibrosis: fatty deposits, scar tissue formations in fatty tissues, and reduced blood flow due to fatty tissues blocking blood vessels in fatty liver areas.
GI Associates Is Conveniently Located Throughout Mississippi
It is important to get blood work done on a regular basis. GI Associates team of doctors are here to help catch and prevent either of these two conditions or if you have already been diagnosed help you manage the next steps. Please contact us today to set up an appointment, so we may help you maintain your GI health.