Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease often has no early symptoms in children or adults, but a fat belly is one signal. And diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides or heart problems often accompany the disease.
As fatty liver disease worsens, these symptoms can appear:
- Chronic fatigue or weakness.
- Abdominal discomfort, such as cramping or nausea.
- Confusion or difficulty thinking.
- Bruising or bleeding easily, including nosebleeds.
- Reduced appetite and weight loss.
Concerned parents can request a blood test for liver enzyme levels. Also, a doctor can check the abdomen to see if the liver is enlarged or order a scan or ultrasound.
Those tests can miss problems, however. The most reliable one is a biopsy, in which a small amount of tissue is removed from the liver and studied under a microscope.
To stop or prevent fatty liver disease, patients should:
- Exercise and eat a balanced diet to lose weight slowly but steadily.
- Control diabetes and cholesterol with medication and diet.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis to prevent further injury to the liver.
- Avoid alcohol, drugs and supplements that can damage the liver.
- Have a liver specialist oversee your care.
- Avoid raw oysters and shellfish, which can harbor bacteria very dangerous to people with advanced liver disease.
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