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What is fatty liver disease?

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Quick Answer

Fatty liver disease is characterized by the buildup of fat in the liver; it can be classified as alcoholic liver disease, or ALD, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, as stated by WebMD. Both conditions can lead to serious complications.

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Full Answer

Around 15 million people in the United States overuse or abuse alcohol, as claimed by WebMD. Around 90 to even 100 percent of those people develop fatty liver disease. Fatty liver can occur in drinkers after just a short period of drinking heavily. Heredity can influence the level of liver enzymes that are needed to breakdown alcohol, and ALD can also be influenced by other factors, including diet, obesity, iron overload in the body and the presence of Hepatitis C.

The most common cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S. is NAFLD. Some instances of NAFLD are simply fatty livers that are abnormal but not necessarily serious if the condition doesn't lead to damage or inflammation. Other times, nonalcoholic steatohepatisis can develop, leading to permanent liver damage over time. This condition causes an enlargement of the liver and the development of scar tissue, which is known as cirrhosis. This can lead to liver cancer, liver failure and even death.

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