What Causes a Fatty Liver?

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Fatty liver is most commonly caused by consumption of large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis or by heavy drinking during a short time period, according to WebMD. Medications, pregnancy, viruses, toxins and metabolic syndrome also can cause fatty liver in those who don’t consume alcohol, notes Healthline.

Fatty liver often doesn’t present any symptoms unless the liver becomes inflamed, Healthline explains. If that happens, the patient may feel weak and tired, have little appetite and experience weight loss. Treatment for fatty liver centers on treating the underlying cause. Abstaining from alcohol consumption, losing weight and controlling cholesterol levels are a few possible interventions.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease causes extra fat to accumulate in the liver tissue, states Mayo Clinic. There are several forms of the disease. Nonalcoholic fatty liver is an accumulation of fat that does not cause any complications. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease-associated hepatitis results in scarring of the tissue, causing some people to develop liver failure due to a loss of liver function. In people with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, extra fat triggers inflammation in the liver, which can eventually lead to scarring.

People with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease usually do not have any symptoms, notes Mayo Clinic. If symptoms develop, they include weight loss, fatigue and abdominal pain. Someone with alcoholic fatty liver may have an enlarged liver upon physical examination, but the condition usually causes no symptoms, states the Cleveland Clinic.