Fatty Liver - Symptoms

Not ready to share? Read other Patient Comments

The symptoms of fatty liver can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver

* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!

I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the black square:

What are the signs and symptoms of fatty liver?

Fatty liver disease rarely causes symptoms until the liver disease is far advanced. Fatty liver usually is found or suspected when:

  • Abnormal liver tests are found on routine blood testing
  • Fat is seen ultrasonographically when ultrasonography of the abdomen is performed for other reasons, for example, the diagnosis of gallstones
  • Infrequently when the liver is enlarged on physical examination of a patient

When the liver disease is far advanced (cirrhosis), signs and symptoms of cirrhosis predominate. These include:

  • Excessive bleeding due to the inability of the liver to make blood-clotting proteins
  • Jaundice due to the inability of the liver to eliminate bilirubin from the blood
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding due to portal hypertension that increases the pressure in intestinal blood vessels
  • Fluid accumulation due to portal hypertension that causes fluid to leak from blood vessels and the inability of the liver to make the major blood protein, albumin
  • Mental changes (encephalopathy) due to the liver's inability to eliminate chemicals from the body that are toxic to the brain. Coma may occur.
  • Liver cancer

What is the difference between nonalcoholic fatty liver and steatohepatitis (NASH)?

As discussed previously, the difference between isolated, nonalcoholic fatty liver and steatohepatitis (NASH) is the presence of inflammation and damage to the liver cells in NASH; in both, the liver has increased amounts of fat. Although about a third of the general population has fatty liver, approximately 10% have NASH. Approximately one third of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease have NASH. Although fatty liver and NASH appear to arise under the same conditions, it does not appear that fatty liver progresses to NASH. Thus, whether a patient is to develop fatty liver versus NASH is determined very early during the accumulation of fat, although it is unclear what factors determine this. It is believed that the inflammation and damage of liver cells are caused by the toxic effects of the fatty acids released by fat cells, but fatty acids in the blood are elevated in both fatty liver and NASH. Perhaps the difference is explained by genetic susceptibility as suggested by preliminary data.

The consequences of fat in the liver depend greatly on the presence or absence of inflammation and damage in the liver, i.e., whether there is fat alone or NASH is present. Isolated fatty liver does not progress to important liver disease. NASH, on the other hand, can progress through the formation of scar (fibrous tissue) to cirrhosis. The complications of cirrhosis, primarily gastrointestinal bleeding, liver failure, and liver cancer, then may occur.

What is the relationship between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, and diabetes?

As discussed previously, obesity and diabetes have important roles in the development of fatty liver. Whereas one third of the general population (which includes obese and people with diabetes) may develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, more than two thirds of people with diabetes develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Among patients who are very obese and undergoing surgery for their obesity, the majority have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Moreover, whereas the risk of NASH is less than 5% among lean persons, the risk is more than a third among the obese. Fatty liver increases both in prevalence as well as severity as the degree of obesity increases. The increases begin at weights that are considered overweight - i.e., less than obese.

What is the relationship between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and the metabolic syndrome?

The metabolic syndrome is a syndrome defined by the association of several metabolic abnormalities that are believed to have a common cause. These metabolic abnormalities result in

  • obesity,
  • elevated blood triglycerides,
  • low high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol,
  • high blood pressure, and
  • elevated blood sugar (diabetes).

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is considered a manifestation of the metabolic syndrome and thus occurs frequently with the other manifestations of the syndrome. Occasionally it may occur without the other abnormalities of the syndrome.

Return to Fatty Liver

See what others are saying

Comment from: MsSara, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 09

My journey with fatty liver started with losing weight rapidly, vomiting, fever, and terrible pain on my right side. After being told that it was anxiety numerous times, a mass was found by ultrasound and confirmed by CT. When it was removed from my liver it showed severe fatty liver. My doctors dismissed this and acted like it was no big deal. One month later my pain worsened and another mass was discovered. Biopsy showed a tumor of unknown origin and NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis). Still the doctors where I live had no clue what NASH was and acted like I was crazy because my pain continued to get worse. I don't drink, not overweight, don't have diabetes or high cholesterol. Finally I called a well-known clinic outside of my state. This doctor knew exactly what NASH is and I was started on Trental and vitamin E over a week ago. I feel so sick, exhausted, and in terrible pain but I have hope. It amazes me with my experience and reading other's experiences that doctors treat NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) like it's a minor illness or they don't know what it is at all. Research and education is badly needed with these diseases.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: NASH13, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 29

My enlarged liver was found last year when I was in a car accident. I have been seeing doctors constantly since. I have found out that my doctors were aware before the accident but never bothered to tell me despite several emergency room trips over the course of two years where they just kept telling me I was having a bout of gastroenteritis. The accident broke vertebrae and bruised my liver more than the already present damage. I have since received the diagnosis as well as being told that I have thickening of my abdominal wall. I am a nurse and know that the thickening could be a sign of cancer. I cannot get any doctor to take this seriously and try to help me. I eat less than 1400 calories a day and now that my back has healed. I exercise an hour and half 3 to 4 times a week. My weight continues to rise though and I look 6 months pregnant. Still I cannot get them to take it seriously. I have been told I should not be having pain though I am in pain all day and vomit often from it. I am tired all the time so much so I have to mentally force myself to do everything I do. It scares me because I feel like I am dying and doctors just don't care. All I have been told was lose weight. When I tell them what I am doing already I get a flip response, 'Well do more'. I have frequent headaches and sometimes just wish it would kill me already because it has ruined my life. I am at least glad to see I am not alone.

Was this comment helpful?Yes


Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors