Fatty Liver Disease vs. Cirrhosis: Know the Difference

fatty liver vs cirrhosis

Keeping a healthy digestive system is necessary for having great overall health, and one of the most important portions of the digestive tract is the liver. The liver is responsible for various life-sustaining processes, such as metabolizing fats, carbs, and proteins, producing bile, preserving glycogen and minerals, eliminating drugs and hormones, along with much more. However, when the liver is affected by disease, it can have a negative impact on your health. A couple of these illnesses are fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, our exceedingly experienced group of gastroenterologists in New Orleans, LA work with patients to better understand their health needs and identify any conditions.

What causes fatty liver disease?

Hepatic steatosis is a problem marked by the existence of fat cells within the liver. This condition has a couple of principal classifications: nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD). While AFLD is caused by an excess of drinking, NAFLD could be induced by obesity, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol, and it is the single most widespread kind of hepatic steatosis in the United States. It can be tough to recognize whether you have hepatic steatosis due to the fact that the problem usually does not lead to any notable symptoms, but it can be identified by our Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates team with blood work, imaging tests, or sometimes a biopsy of the liver.

What is cirrhosis of the liver?

Cirrhosis of the liver is characterized as the growth of fibrotic scarring over normal liver tissue, which is destroyed in the process. Cirrhosis is not a disease that develops immediately; instead, it is ordinarily an effect of years of damage to the liver, whether as a result of excessive alcohol consumption or from another health issue that remains untreated for many years. Comparable with fatty liver disease, the early points of cirrhosis of the liver do not usually cause signs to manifest. Nevertheless, some symptoms of cirrhosis you may encounter are:

  • Nausea
  • Fluid retention
  • Memory issues
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Discomfort in the abdomen
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of energy
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Darker than normal urine
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes

These are just some of the effects that could take place as the condition progresses over the long term.

Key differences between fatty liver disease and cirrhosis

While fatty liver disease and cirrhosis both involve the liver, it's important to note a number of key distinctions.

  1. Fatty liver disease is defined by the buildup of fat cells in the liver, but cirrhosis is the formation of scar tissue on top of normal areas of tissue.
  2. Both groups of fatty liver disease (AFLD and NAFLD) can lead to cirrhosis when not treated in time.
  3. Both conditions take time to progress, but cirrhosis warrants a considerably more severe issue.
  4. Fatty liver disease is significantly more common.

In the event that you find out that you have either of these conditions, it's crucial to seek care as soon as you can. Although both conditions can be chronic, having your illness addressed and your health maintained is essential for your welfare.

Increase the wellness of your liver

Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates is glad to employ a highly qualified group of trained specialists who have a detailed understanding of the digestive tract and the life-giving parts that comprise it. We strive to learn about your symptoms and provide innovative diagnostic technology to offer the most accurate explanation of your condition. To book an appointment, contact our team in New Orleans, LA.