Fatty liver disease is a condition that causes fat to accumulate in your liver (the largest organ in your body). There are two main types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Unlike the former, NAFLD is not caused by drinking alcohol.
NAFLD does not usually present signs or symptoms, which makes it highly pernicious because the later-stages can prove life-threatening.
However, according to health body Temple Health, “feeling as if you need to rest or sleep more than usual” can signal the serious condition.
If you find yourself struggling to wake up in the morning, it could therefore indicate NAFLD.
Abdominal pain that takes the form of discomfort in the right upper abdomen can also be a warning sign, warns Temple Health.
Am I 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 (scarring of the liver).
However, chronic disease markers have been associated with the development of NAFLD.
According to Mayo Clinic, NAFLD is 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.
According to the health body, it’s important not to lose weight too quickly though, because this could cause problems with your liver.
What’s more, exercise will help you to lose any excess weight you may have and can confer direct benefits for NAFLD.
“It may also help to reduce damage to your liver even if you don’t successfully lose any weight,” explains Bupa.
The health body adds: “If you drink alcohol, it’s important to stay within the national recommended limits for alcohol consumption.”