Does Fatty Liver Disease Cause Cirrhosis?

Does Fatty Liver Disease Cause Cirrhosis?

Summary: Without proper care, a fatty liver can lead to cirrhosis, a detrimental concern that may cause symptoms like skin yellowing, low energy, and pain.

A healthy digestive tract is important when it comes to how your body functions, and among the most vital organs of the gastrointestinal system is the liver. Located by the stomach, the liver is responsible for various essential functions, including breaking down fats, carbohydrates and proteins, making bile, preserving glycogen and minerals, eliminating drugs and hormones, and much more. However, when the liver is impacted by disease, it can carry out a harmful result on your total quality of life. A couple of these conditions are a fatty liver and cirrhosis. At Arizona Digestive Health, our exceedingly proficient group of physicians in Phoenix, AZ partners with patients to find out about their health needs and discern any illnesses.

What to know about fatty liver disease

Fatty liver disease is a problem characterized by the existence of fat cells within the liver. This disease has a couple of main classifications: nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD). While AFLD is caused by heavy drinking, NAFLD can be prompted by obesity, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol, and it is the sole most widespread form of hepatic steatosis in the United States. It is tough to discern whether you are experiencing a fatty liver considering that the illness generally does not produce any noticeable effects; however, it can be diagnosed by our Arizona Digestive Health team through a blood panel, imaging tests, or possibly a biopsy of the liver.

Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol

If you keep a routine that produces harm to the liver, it’s possible that you could develop cirrhosis. Cirrhosis of the liver is characterized as the growth of tissue scarring on top of normal areas of tissue, which is replaced over time. Cirrhosis is not a disease that develops immediately, but it is usually an effect of a long period of injury to the liver, whether via heavy alcohol use or from another condition that remains unaddressed for many years. Comparable with hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease), the early phases of cirrhosis do not typically cause signs to show up. Nevertheless, symptoms of cirrhosis you might experience as scarring continues to accumulate include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Oedema
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Bloating
  • Jaundice
  • Darker than normal urine
  • Nausea
  • Lack of energy
  • Memory problems

These are just a handful of the effects that may develop as cirrhosis of the liver intensifies over time.

Key differences between cirrhosis and fatty liver disease

Whereas fatty liver disease and cirrhosis both affect the liver, there are several primary distinctions.

  1. Hepatic steatosis is defined by the presence of fat cells within the liver while cirrhosis is the formation of scar tissue over normal tissue.
  2. Both types of hepatic steatosis (NAFLD and AFLD) can result in cirrhosis if not treated in a timely manner.
  3. The two illnesses take years to develop, but cirrhosis of the liver warrants a considerably more serious issue.
  4. Hepatic steatosis is much more prevalent.

If you have one of these issues, it’s important to obtain treatment as soon as possible. While both problems can be long term, having your illness addressed and your wellness maintained is important for your quality of life.

Learn about your liver health

Arizona Digestive Health is proud to feature a highly qualified group of trained gastroenterologists who have a comprehensive understanding of the gastrointestinal system and the vital organs that comprise it. We work hard to learn about your concerns to the most exhaustive extent and offer innovative medical technology to offer the most accurate analysis of your illness. Reach out to our staff in Phoenix, AZ today to schedule an exam and learn more about your liver health.

Factors that Lead to Fatty Liver Disease

Factors that Lead to Fatty Liver Disease


The liver carries out several critical functions, like producing bile, filtering blood, and processing glucose, and is the second-largest organ in the body. Ongoing damage to the liver can result in cirrhosis of the liver, which is where scar tissue takes over healthy areas of tissue. Several medical conditions and liver diseases have been known to lead to cirrhosis of the liver. One such condition, called fatty liver disease, is a health concern for approximately 25 percent of people nationwide and is on the rise.

Between 20 – 40% of people in the United States are living with a fatty liver condition. If ever you or a family member could be at an elevated risk for having fatty liver disease, the proper medical care could help set you on the path to treating this unhealthy buildup of fat. The gastroenterologists at Arizona Digestive Health are trained to diagnose and treat fatty liver disease. Reach out to a digestive health specialist at one of our practices throughout the Phoenix, AZ area to discover more about this common but preventable issue.

What are the primary types of fatty liver disease?

When fatty liver disease is present, it means that there is an accumulation of fat in the liver. Although a small amount of fat in your liver okay, a fat constitution in excess of 5% may end up causing inflammation and cirrhosis, which is known to the medical community as hepatic steatosis. The two primary types of fatty liver disease are called AFLD (alcoholic fatty liver disease) and NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).

Common causes of fat in the liver

Excessive alcohol consumption can often cause too much fat to accumulate in the liver. When this condition leads to fibrotic tissue or inflammation, it is typically called alcoholic steatohepatitis. Substance abuse services help to prevent misuse of alcohol and other drugs and to help people with substance use disorders get the treatment they need to live a life in recovery. For Phoenix, AZ patients who consume little to no alcohol, the common underlying health factors for NAFLD are comprised of:

  • Obesity
  • Adult-onset diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • High cholesterol

If a fatty liver condition advances to the point of causing inflammation and injury to the tissues in the liver, it is diagnosed as NASH or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis will likely overtake the hepatitis C virus as the primary reason for liver transplant procedures among U.S. citizens.

How can I identify the symptoms of hepatic steatosis?

A person who is affected by fatty liver disease is unlikely to present any noticeable symptoms or signs at first. If and when indications of the condition do show up, however, they could indicate that considerable damage to the liver has occurred. These symptoms could include:

  • A change in bowel habits
  • Swollen abdomen and ankles
  • Urine dark in color
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Jaundice
  • Queasiness

If you or someone you love is noticing such symptoms, contact Arizona Digestive Health and have a gastrointestinal specialist assess the condition. Without professional care, a fatty liver condition may progress to cirrhosis and possibly result in other problems, including ascites (fluid accumulation in the belly), swollen veins in the esophagus, hepatic encephalopathy (a decline in brain function due to liver disease), liver cancer, and the need for liver transplant surgery.

Can fatty liver disease be treated?

Generally, the recommended ways to treat fatty liver disease often include lifestyle changes. Individuals who have AFLD should refrain from drinking alcohol, which can stop the advancement of a fatty liver condition. Avoiding the consumption of alcoholic drinks is also recommended if a person’s fatty liver condition is not related to alcohol use. If you have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, losing 10% of your entire body mass index (BMI) may considerably reduce the fat accumulation in your liver. Keeping up with heart-healthy exercises can often decrease the amount of fat in the liver as well. Adhering to a healthy diet may also help to better manage risk factors of fatty liver disease, including elevated cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, and lessen the overall fat content in the liver. For more details about liver treatment, use this link

Receive specialized care for a fatty liver condition in Phoenix, AZ

Excess fat in the liver might progress to damaging fibrotic tissue and liver failure without professional treatment. In the event that you or your loved one is at risk for hepatic steatosis, please reach out to Arizona Digestive Health in Phoenix, AZ to learn more about the methods used to address this medical issue. Arizona Digestive Health employs a qualified team of GI doctors that place the well-being and safety of their patients first.