What is hepatic steatosis? | Treatment Options | Nutrition

hepatic steatosis

What is hepatic steatosis?

Fatty liver is also known as hepatic steatosis. It occurs when fat accumulates in the liver. Consuming small quantities of fat in the liver is normal, but too much can become a health problem.

Your liver is the additional largest organ in your body. Hepatic steatosis helps process nutrients in food and drink and filters harmful substances from the blood.

Too much fat in the liver can cause inflammation of the liver, which can damage the liver and create scars. In severe cases, these scars can lead to liver failure.

When fatty liver develops in someone who drinks a lot of alcohol, it is recognized as alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD).

Symptoms of hepatic steatosis

With ALD and NAFLD, there are usually no symptoms. Some people may have signs such as tiredness or pain in the upper right part of the abdomen, where the liver is.

If you have NASH or cirrhosis, you may have symptoms of hepatic steatosis such as:

  • Swollen belly
  • Enlarged blood vessels under the skin
  • Larger than normal breasts in men
  • Red palms
  • Yellow skin and eyes due to a condition called jaundice.

Causes and risk factors

For ALD, the cause is too much alcohol. You are even more likely to get it if you drink a lot and

  • Are obese
  • They are malnourished
  • You have chronic viral hepatitis, especially hepatitis C
  • You have genes that make you more likely to get it.
  • Age: The older you are, the more likely it becomes.

The reason why some people with NAFLD have simple fatty liver and others get NASH is not known. Genes may be a reason. NAFLD or NASH is more likely if:

  • Are overweight or obese
  • Your body does not respond to insulin the way it should (called insulin resistance) or if you have type 2 diabetes
  • Have high levels of triglycerides or “bad” cholesterol (LDL), or low levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL)
  • You’re older
  • You have polycystic ovary syndrome
  • You have sleep apnea
  • You have an underactive thyroid (your doctor will call this hypothyroidism)
  • You have an underactive pituitary gland (you will hear this called hypopituitarism)
  • You are malnourished
  • Has lost weight quickly
  • You have been exposed to certain toxins and chemicals.

You have metabolic syndrome. This is a combination of conditions that make you more prone to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. With metabolic syndrome, you may have three of these conditions:

  • Large waist size
  • High triglycerides or LDL cholesterol
  • Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • High blood sugar level

There are also some less common reasons why you can get NAFLD or NASH. They include:

  • Medical conditions that affect the way your body uses or stores fat
  • Hepatitis C or other infections
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Taking convinced medications such as glucocorticoids, methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), a synthetic estrogen, tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Soltamox), and others
  • Gallbladder removal. Some persons who have surgery to eliminate the gallbladder are more likely to have NAFLD.


To reduce your risk of hepatic steatosis:

  • Choose a healthy diet. Choose a healthy plant-based diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
  • Keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, decrease the number of calories you eat each day and exercise more. If you are at a healthy weight, work to maintain it by choosing a healthy diet, and exercising.
  • Exercise. Exercise most days of the week. Get your doctor’s approval first if you haven’t been exercising regularly.


The main complication of NAFLD and NASH is cirrhosis, which is late-stage scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis occurs in response to liver injury, such as inflammation in NASH. As the liver tries to stop inflammation, it produces areas of scarring (fibrosis). With ongoing inflammation, fibrosis spreads and occupies more and more liver tissue.

If the process is not interrupted, cirrhosis can lead to:

  • Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Inflammation of the veins in the esophagus (esophageal varices), which can rupture and bleed
  • Confusion, drowsiness, and trouble speaking (hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Liver cancer
  • End-stage liver failure, which means the liver has stopped working
  • Among 5% and 12% of people with NASH will growth to cirrhosis.

How is fatty liver (hepatosteatosis) diagnosed?

The most common imaging procedures used to diagnose hepatic steatosis include ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, firbroscan, and transient elastography. In inconclusive cases, a biopsy may be necessary.

How is hepatic steatosis treated?

There is no specific medication for hepatic steatosis. Instead, doctors focus on helping you control the factors that contribute to the condition. They also recommend making lifestyle changes that can meaningfully recover your health. Treatment includes:

  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Lose weight.

Take medicines to control diabetes, cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fats). Take vitamin E and thiazolidinediones (drugs used to treat diabetes such as Actos® and Avandia®) in specific cases.

Who Gets hepatic steatosis?

You have a higher chance of developing hepatic steatosis if:

  • They are Hispanic or Asian.
  • She is a postmenopausal woman (a woman whose periods have stopped).
  • She is obese with a high level of abdominal fat.
  • She has high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
  • She has obstructive sleep apnea (a blocked airway that causes breathing to stop and start during sleep).

Why is hepatic steatosis bad?

In most cases, hepatic steatosis does not cause any serious problems or prevent your liver from working normally. But in 7% to 30% of people with this condition, hepatic steatosis worsens over time. It progresses through three stages:

  • Your liver becomes inflamed (swollen), damaging its tissue. This stage is called steatohepatitis.
  • Scar tissue forms where your liver is injured. This process is called fibrosis.
  • Extensive scar tissue replaces healthy tissue. At this point, he has cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Liver cirrhosis

Cirrhosis of the liver is the result of severe damage to the liver. The hard scar tissue that replaces healthy liver tissue slows down the liver’s function. Eventually, it can block liver function completely. Cirrhosis can chief to liver failure and liver cancer.

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