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Fatty liver disease: The warning signs in your legs signalling ‘late stage of scarring’

Liver Disease: Expert discusses risks and symptoms

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease details a range of conditions that have one thing in common – the build-up of fat in your liver. The early stages of fatty liver don’t usually pose any harm. But problems can occur as the condition progresses. Here is one sign which could help you spot it.

If your liver is healthy, it should only contain a small amount of fat.

When the fat reaches five to 10 percent of the organ’s weight, it becomes a “problem”, the Cleveland Clinic reports.

Having a fatty liver also boosts your risk of other serious health problems, ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure.

The good news is that early detection and management can help stop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) from getting worse, the NHS explains.

As this condition doesn’t generally trigger symptoms in the early stages, it can be difficult to spot.

At the beginning, patients don’t usually know about having it unless tested for another reason.

However, the more advanced stages of fatty liver can cause some symptoms.

This includes swollen legs, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic reports that swelling in the legs is a warning sign of cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis is the late stage of liver scarring.

The NHS describes that in terms of the fatty liver disease this is the “most severe stage” that happens after years of inflammation.

During this stage, your liver shrinks and becomes scarred and lumpy.

What’s worse, this damage is permanent and can even cause liver failure or cancer.

The reason why cirrhosis can present as swelling in the legs is the increased pressure in the portal vein.

This can cause fluid to build up in your legs.

It may also occur because of the liver’s inability to produce enough of certain blood proteins, like albumin.

However, swollen legs aren’t the only tell-tale sign of fatty liver.

Before you reach cirrhosis, there are three earlier stages which include non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and fibrosis.

According to the NHS, people in these stages may experience the following symptoms:

  • Dull or aching pain in the top right of the tummy 
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness.

The health service shares that the most “important” part of preventing the condition from getting worse is lifestyle changes. 

So, anything from a healthy diet to exercise could help reduce the amount of fat in your liver.

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