Have you heard before that fatty liver is “normal” and there’s nothing to worry about? That’s the worst possible advice you can give to someone with this condition – a condition that might lead to liver failure in the future. Sure, fatty liver may not cause symptoms in the initial stage, and not all patients develop complications. But are you predisposed to liver damage? Is liver disease turning into fibrosis and cirrhosis in your case? The only way to know the answer is by asking your doctor.
Fatty liver disease is a condition where excess fat accumulates in the liver. When you have it for a long time, it may trigger inflammation and fibrosis. It is the first stage of a more dangerous disease. So, the best thing you can do is to solve the problem right away before it advances to a late stage.
But treating fatty liver disease can be a complicated process. Depending on the severity of the problem, it can be treated with lifestyle changes, weight loss, supplements, or through a medical approach using drugs or bariatric surgery.
In this article, we’re going to describe the most important treatments for this disease that affects over 25 to 35% of Americans. It should be read as general information to understand the treatment and prepare your questions for the next visit with your doctor.
Pharmacological treatment refers to drugs that can be used to reduce fat accumulation in the liver. Fatty liver disease is usually related to high cholesterol levels, and by lowering cholesterol, you will also control the disease. That’s why statins are often used as first-line treatment. Statins are drugs commonly used to treat high cholesterol by blocking the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme. They are available in many different forms and are prescribed to obese patients who need a helping hand to process fat more efficiently, reducing the risk of liver damage.
Antidiabetic medications can also be helpful in some patients. For instance, metformin lowers blood glucose levels and can reduce fat infiltration rate in the liver. In any case, treating the underlying disease, such as type 2 diabetes or hypertriglyceridemia, is essential. The latter features an increase in triglyceride levels and is treated with fibrates.
Some drugs can cause fatty liver disease, and drug-induced damage can sometimes be severe and cause fulminant liver failure. So, if you think that a treatment you’re taking is causing you trouble, you’ll need to schedule a visit to your doctor and talk about it in detail. You may need to undergo a few tests, and your doctor may decide to make changes to your medication schedule.