Fatty liver disease: The ‘severe’ sign on your feet indicating ‘most advanced’ stage

Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol

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Poor lifestyle decisions cause fat to accumulate in your liver. When it accumulates to the point of excess, it’s known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). If caught early enough, NAFLD is treatable but in the advanced stages it can prove life-threatening.

Unfortunately, NAFLD may not present warning signs in the beginning, which makes it highly pernicious.

In fact, you may not experience symptoms until NAFLD has progressed to cirrhosis – a serious form of liver disease whereby the liver is scarred.

According to The London Clinic, “if the most advanced stage of NAFLD (cirrhosis) develops, you may experience more severe symptoms”.

If your feet have become swollen feet, this can indicate the most advanced stage, the health body warns.

Other “severe” signs include:

  • Jaundice, which comes up as a yellow colour in the skin, whites of the eyes or mucous membranes (inner linings of the nose or mouth)
  • Itchy skin.

How NAFLD is diagnosed

The NHS explains: “NAFLD is often diagnosed after a blood test called a liver function test produces an abnormal result and other liver conditions, such as hepatitis, are ruled out.”

But blood tests do not always pick up NAFLD.

The NHS explains: “The condition may also be spotted during an ultrasound scan of your tummy.”

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This is a type of scan where sound waves are used to create an image of the inside of your body.

Are you at risk?

Experts don’t know exactly why some people accumulate fat in the liver while others do not.

Similarly, there is limited understanding of why some fatty livers develop inflammation that progresses to cirrhosis.

NAFLD has been linked to the following:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Insulin resistance, in which your cells don’t take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycaemia), indicating prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • High levels of fats, particularly triglycerides, in the blood.

“These combined health problems appear to promote the deposit of fat in the liver,” explains the Mayo Clinic.

“For some people, this excess fat acts as a toxin to liver cells, causing liver inflammation and NASH, which may lead to a buildup of scar tissue in the liver.”

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is an aggressive form of fatty liver disease, which is marked by liver inflammation and may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure.

This damage is similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use.

How to minimise its impact

If you have NAFLD, you can make lifestyle changes to help stop it getting worse.

According to Bupa, losing weight can reverse some of the build-up of fat and even some of the fibrosis in your liver.

“It’s important not to lose weight too quickly though, because this could cause problems with your liver,” warns the health body.

Exercising more will help you to lose any excess weight you may have, it adds.

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