Differences Between Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and NAFLD

Differences Between Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Non-Alcoholic (NAFLD)

Experiencing any issues with your health can be alarming. This is especially the case when symptoms are so disruptive that you are 100% convinced you have a serious medical condition, even before receiving a diagnosis. While the list of such illnesses is long, there are two that aren’t as well-known: Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NALFD). What’s the difference between them, and what can you do if you’ve been diagnosed?

What is the Function of the Liver?

The liver is one of the most vital organs in the human body. It metabolizes fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and medications. It stores vitamins, minerals, and glycogen. And, it filters blood coming from your digestive system, removing any impurities and toxins.

How do you get toxins in your body in the first place? Toxins have become a part in many people’s diet and lifestyles. This includes consuming alcohol, refined sugar, saturated fats, and coffee. If you smoke, the amount of toxins in your body is increased exponentially.

In addition, living in a constant state of stress releases hormones into your system, getting it ready for a “fight-or-flight” response. Since most modern societies don’t require you to either fight or flight (and the stress triggers are work issues, constant traffic jams, financial problems, going through a divorce, etc…), the accumulated hormones end up creating a toxic environment in your body. As a way to alleviate the burden on your health, the liver works as much as possible to eliminate them.

What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

A healthy liver is composed of about 10% of its weight in fat cells. Anything more than that percentage, and you’re considered to have a fatty liver. Having this condition leads to inflammation and scarring of the liver. This scarring interferes with liver functions.

The condition is more likely to occur to overweight people, patients with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, or high cholesterol.

Symptoms of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

In some instances, a person won’t experience any symptoms at all. Those who do, go through the following:

  • Pain on the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Yellow skin
  • Yellow whites of the eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Visible blood vessels
  • Elevated liver function tests

What is Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

When a person has alcoholic fatty liver disease, the fat buildup on the liver is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol throughout the years. In the case of alcoholism, fatty liver disease is usually the first step in developing even more serious and life-threatening health conditions, such as cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis.

Symptoms of Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

The symptoms are the same as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, with the first one appearing being the yellowing of the white portion of the eyes. In addition, a patient may experience:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech

Something else you may notice is your abdomen getting substantially bigger. This is due to accumulation of fluids (ascites).

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of fatty liver disease, seek medical attention immediately, since complications can include liver and kidney failure.

If You Believe You May Have Fatty Liver Disease, Let Us Help You

At Pinnacle Research, we specialize in the exploration of liver disease. We work with over 70 referring physicians in San Antonio and Austin, providing clinical trials in liver disease.

Contact us today to talk through your options and discuss how we can help.