Your liver helps produce urea, stores vitamins and minerals and aids in maintaining a steady level of glucose in the blood. When it becomes diseased, numerous health problems can arise. Fatty liver disease is one cause of hepatomegaly, but there are other conditions that cause your liver to become enlarged as well 1. Some people experience no symptoms with a fatty liver while others may experience severe problems. Consult with your health care provider about your risk factors for fatty liver disease and hepatomegaly.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
What is Hepatomegaly?
Hepatomegaly is the clinical term for an enlarged liver 1. According to the Mayo Clinic, an enlarged liver is not the problem, but rather it is a sign of an underlying problem that needs to be addressed 1. Liver diseases like cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, hepatitis and benign liver tumors can cause your liver to be enlarged, as can cancer and cardiovascular problems 1. Symptoms of this condition may include fatigue, stomach pain or jaundice; if you have these symptoms call your doctor for an examination.
What is a Fatty Liver?
Fatty liver disease involves a buildup of fat in the liver and can be classified as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD; or alcoholic fatty liver disease 3. Most individuals with NAFLD experience no complications, but there is a more-severe form of the disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, the Mayo Clinic explains. Symptoms of NAFLD include stomach pain in the upper right quadrant, fatigue and weight loss. Alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when large amounts of alcohol are consumed over a period of time and is usually reversible after an individual decides to abstain or drink in moderation, the Cleveland Clinic explains 2. Symptoms of alcoholic fatty liver disease can include fever, muscle wasting, enlarged spleen and jaundice 1.
Treatment for hepatomegaly involves finding out the underlying condition causing the enlargement and treating that condition accordingly. There is no treatment for NAFLD, but you may be urged to minimize your risk factors, like obesity and diet, the Mayo Clinic advises. Sometimes a medication may contribute to NAFLD; if this is true in your case, your medication may be changed. Alcoholic liver disease is typically treated by abstaining from alcohol, and if there are complications like jaundice or dehydration, hospitalization may be necessary.
Preventing Hepatomegaly and Fatty Liver
It is possible to prevent the development of a fatty liver and hepatomegaly. Eating a healthy diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains; staying at a healthy weight; quitting smoking; using only the recommended dosages of medications and minimizing your consumption of alcohol, if you drink at all, can help keep your liver healthy. Talk with your health care provider about your risk factors for developing liver disease and any other ways you can reduce your risk of liver problems.
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