Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty Liver Disease

Jan 18, 2024 | Healthy Living, Internal Medicine

What is it and why should I care?


Often heard in the news is the degree to which your diet can impact your overall health. In general, people tend to think of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease as consequences of a less healthy lifestyle, but a rising disease known as fatty liver disease also has significant adverse health outcomes. There are two types of fatty liver disease, known as alcoholic fatty liver and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). With the rising rates of obesity in the world, NAFLD can be found in 25% of the population worldwide.

What does a “fatty liver” mean?

A fatty liver is often found on imaging of the abdomen such as with an ultrasound or CT scan. This is not something typically found on a physical exam. Fat on imaging looks different than normal liver tissue and is often found on imaging incidentally.  Fatty infiltration can disrupt the normal function of the liver which includes filtering toxins from the blood, creating clotting factors for the blood in case of injury as well as helping manage blood sugar levels.

How can I prevent this?

It is recommended to visit a doctor at least once per year even if feeling well to ensure proper screening for more silent diseases like fatty liver disease. At these visits, the doctor will monitor weight and labs to include screening for metabolic disturbances like elevated glucose levels, cholesterol, and liver function.  Ways to prevent this disease in everyday life include eating a well-balanced diet to include higher protein, lower carb foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Daily exercise is also important, aiming for 150 minutes of activity per week.

I developed fatty liver disease, now what?

If significant fatty infiltration exists, it is possible that lab values may be abnormal that can indicate liver dysfunction. These labs include AST, ALT, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin levels. These may be checked by your primary care provider regularly. In severe cases, the injury is so severe that it can develop into liver failure. Because of this, it is best to prevent and treat as early as possible to avoid these complications.

The majority of the time lifestyle modifications are the mainstay of treatment for this disease.  This includes weight loss if overweight or obese, abstaining from alcohol, and avoiding any potential medications or herbal supplements that could further injure the liver. Other modifications include optimizing blood sugar control if diabetic and managing high cholesterol or known heart disease aggressively. If these modifications don’t improve the condition, typically patients will need to see a liver specialist for further treatment and guidance.

Jordyn N. Walter

Jordyn N. Walter


Jordyn Walter, M.D. began practicing Internal Medicine at Lakeview Clinic in 2022. Dr. Walter has special interests in chronic disease management such as diabetes, heart failure and hypertension. She also utilizes point-of-care ultrasound.


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