World Liver Day is observed every year on April 19 to raise awareness about the severity, early detection and prevention methods of liver diseases.

The theme of this year's Liver Day is "be vigilant, do regular liver check-ups, fatty liver can affect anyone." It encourages everyone to do regular checkups, irrespective of risk factors like obesity, insulin resistance and alcohol consumption.

The liver is the largest internal organ that serves more than 500 vital functions, from the digestion of food to the expelling of toxic substances from the body.

Here are some of the main functions of the liver:

  • Regulates chemical levels in the blood
  • Production of bile
  • Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen
  • Regulation of amino acids in the blood
  • Production of cholesterol
  • Regulates blood clotting
  • Resists infections
  • Gets rid of drugs and other poisonous substances

What happens when the liver fails?

Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that occurs when large parts of the liver become damaged beyond repair.

Acute liver failure occurs when the liver stops functioning within a matter of days or weeks without any previous issues. Chronic liver failure happens when the damage happens over time and ultimately stops functioning.

What is fatty liver?

Fatty liver is a condition that happens when too much fat builds up in your liver. In most cases, the condition does not create any serious problems with the organ's function. However, fatty liver disease progresses for 7% to 30% of people and can lead to liver failure.

There are two main forms of fatty liver disease: alcohol-induced fatty liver disease and non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is estimated that one in three adults and one in 10 children in the U.S. have NAFLD.

Many people develop fatty liver without having any pre-existing conditions but factors like obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and certain prescription medications increase its risk.

Signs of fatty liver

The progression of fatty liver is often very gradual. Most patients may not experience any symptoms and hence the condition is sometimes called a silent killer.

Many people chance upon the diagnosis during health checkups or when they approach doctors with other conditions.

However, early detection of the disease is crucial as around 10-20% of fatty liver patients go on to develop hepatitis, which eventually increases the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Here are some of the early signs to look for:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen
  • Swelling in legs and ankles
  • Dark urine and pale stool
  • Itchy skin
  • Tendency to bruise easily
  • Dark skin around the neck
  • Puffiness in the face

Ways to prevent fatty liver

Fatty liver is often reversible through certain lifestyle modifications:

1. Choose a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats

2. Limit alcohol consumption

3. Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise

4. Avoid medications that could damage your liver

Fatty Liver
Fatty liver is often reversible through certain lifestyle modifications such as choosing a healthy diet and exercise regime. pixabay