Signs & symptoms of fatty liver problems

Written by samantha volz
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There are many causes of liver problems, including alcoholism, genetics and poor nutrition. In most cases, the patient will suffer from a fatty liver, which is the accumulation of fat in the liver cells. This accumulation can also be associated with hepatitis and fibrosis. Regardless of the cause, know the warning signs and symptoms of fatty liver problems, and consult a doctor if you are concerned about your health.

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Stomach Pain

According to MedicineNet.com, many patients suffering from fatty liver problems experience few, if any, signs or symptoms. When the signs do manifest, they often include stomach pain, generally in the upper right area of the abdomen, just below the rib cage. It is not sharp or stabbing, as pain associated with gallstones or gas might be. Instead, the pain is often a dull ache, with no pattern or apparent cause.

The cause of the pain is usually the stretching of the surface of the liver because of the build-up of fat cells, or swelling and inflammation that occur in the liver because of the illness.

Darkening of the Skin

Acanthosis nigricans is a dark colouring or pigmentation that appears on the skin of some patients with fatty liver problems. The skin around the neck and armpits, where there are many sensitive glands, is most often affected.

This symptom is most often found in children with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It indicates that the body is trying to fight the fat build-up, often by producing more insulin from the glands in the neck and armpits.

Change in Liver Size and Shape

In some cases of fatty liver problems, the size and shape of the liver will change with the build-up of fatty cells. Doctors can actually feel your liver by simply pressing on a few areas of your abdomen; checking your liver size and shape for abnormalities is a part of many routine checkups.

A liver with a large build-up of fatty tissue will feel different to a doctor who is testing the abdomen. It will often feel larger than normal, and it will have a softened edge formed by the cells swelling with fat.

Symptoms of Related Diseases

The build-up of fat in the liver is often confused with, or associated with, other diseases. Many patients who suffer from fatty liver problems also will suffer from obesity, diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). A patient with fatty liver problems may exhibit signs and symptoms associated with these other diseases, including retinopathy (abnormal reactions from blood vessels in the eyes), kidney failure and heart problems, such as heart failure or heart attack.

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