Fatty liver disease, also known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, is a condition where fatty deposits collect within the liver. Over time, this buildup can cause inflammation and scarring, which can affect the overall function of the liver. However, the onset of the condition doesn't always produce complications, and many people are never even aware they're suffering from the disease. But depending on the severity of the condition, a person may eventually begin to suffer from a number of different symptoms.
For many people, fatty liver disease causes no symptoms at all. This is partly due to the amount of fatty deposits within the liver, but also a result of the body's reaction to these deposits. It isn't until these deposits trigger an inflammation that symptoms develop.
Fatigue is the most common of all the symptoms of fatty liver disease (as well as almost any liver disease). The reason for this is still unclear, but some researchers believe that it has something to do with a change in the chemical balance in the brain. When someone is suffering from fatty liver disease, certain neurotransmitters experience a fluctuation that causes a person to become more fatigued or exhausted than normal.
Pain often accompanies this fatigue. This pain is usually vague, manifesting as a dull ache in the upper abdomen, just below the right portion of the ribcage. As the liver inflames, it inevitably causes the lining to stretch, resulting in this abdominal pain.
Since the liver is responsible for bile used in the process of digestion, any inflammation or scarring that hinders its production can cause digestive distress. Depending on the severity of the condition, this distress can trigger nausea, vomiting, bloody stools, loss of appetite and weight loss.
In more severe cases of fatty liver disease, especially when the organ is significantly scarred, a person can suffer from jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and eyes. However, not only is this symptom an indication of problems in the liver, it can also be a warning sign that the liver is actually failing.
Though not as prevalent as other symptoms, fatty liver disease, especially with a great deal of scarring, can produce a change in urination. Most of these changes will involve the urine itself becoming darker and more pungent than normal.
While not everyone with fatty liver disease suffers from skin discomfort, this symptom can occur when the inflammation and scarring becomes much more severe. This discomfort usually manifests as an itchy sensation within the skin that often worsens throughout the day.