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    Prevalence of fatty liver condition among adolescents and young adults

    Published on April 8, 2021

    By Doctor Jagan Mohan Reddy, Surgical Gastroenterologist at Apollo Spectra Hospital Kondapur, Hyderabad

    Liver, the largest and heaviest internal organ of the human body, is often ignored in our healthcare regime. This one single organ impacts all aspects of our health.

    The liver, which is located under the lower rib cage on the right side, performs several crucial functions like removing harmful chemicals that your body makes and producing a liquid called ‘bile’ that helps in breaking down fat in food. It also stores glucose to jump start your system with an energy boost when required. The pandemic and the work from home routine has brought upon a range of lifestyle changes in everyone’s life and these changes in the diet and physical activity can lead to a condition called Fatty Liver.

    The prevalence of fatty liver among young adults is becoming increasingly common in many parts of the world. A common type of fatty liver is the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and this is usually associated with people whose body index mass is higher & who are having sedemtary life style while alcoholic fatty liver  disease is seen in people that engage in harmful levels of drinking. If the fatty liver is left untreated it can lead to fibrosis which causes the scarring of the liver and in some cases when the condition becomes severe it will eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver and this is irreversible.

    Symptoms of Fatty Liver:

    People that are suffering from a fatty liver often don’t realise the presence of it, there are a number of signs and symptoms of a fatty liver, however not all of them might be present. It is very important to visit a doctor for regular blood tests that can diagnose fatty liver at a reversible stage.

    ●      Mild pain or fullness in the right side of the abdominal area

    1.    Increase in the levels of liver enzymes, like AST and ALT

    ●      High insulin levels

    ●      Increase in the triglyceride levels

    If the fatty liver progresses to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a later stage of fatty liver disease where the liver inflammation takes place due to excess fat storage, then the symptoms may include:

    l  Loss of appetite

    l  Vomiting or nausea

    l  Tolerable to severe abdominal pain

    l  Skin and eyes might turn yellow

    l  Abdominal distension (Due to fluid accumulation ) in Late stress.

    Causes and suggested preventive measures:

    In some cases people that maintain a healthy weight but are viscerally obese (fat around the waist) are prone to developing a fatty liver. Maintaining a healthy body mass index, is therefore important to maintain overall health.  As per research it is said that weight loss can promote loss of liver fat regardless of whether the person gets rid of excess body weight through dietary restrictions or physical exercise. Engaging in any kind of exercise everyday is a very effective way to decrease liver fat. Exercise and resistance training can reduce the amount of fat accumulated in the liver cells. Ensure adolescents and young adults develop a healthy habit of 30 mins of any form exercise everyday to avoid the development of fat storage in the liver.

    Young adults often indulge in consuming refined carbohydrates due to changing eating habits over the years. Refined carbs promote fat storage in the liver. Intake of refined carbs causes more damage to the liver in people that are overweight and people who have insulin resistance. . Avoiding the intake of refined carbs will help in avoiding the development of a fatty liver. . It is also important to cut back on dietary fats as these fats eventually convert to carbs.

    Additionally, the intake of sugary liquids has an impact on the liver. Beverages that contain sugar like soda or other aerated drinks are high in fructose. Increase in fructose causes the liver to accumulate fat in children and young adults. Therefore, it is advised that adults stay away from consuming sugary beverages.

    Maintaining good liver health is crucial as an abnormality in one organ can lead to a series of health issues. As the world tries to return to normalcy amidst an ongoing health crisis, it’s imperative to pay keen attention to every health condition and seek help while making efforts to develop a good eating and sleeping routine.