Re: Fatty Liver
I have been asking questions on here about pretty much the same thing of late. Did some major research and hope I can offer a tidbit of advice for you.
I was diagnosed with a fatty liver in May of this year. Had never even HEARD of a "fatty" liver issue before and I don't drink or smoke. Never have, except MAYBE about once or twice a year a glass of white wine. But I had a surgery in October 2005 where I lost about 35 pounds in a month (went from about 150 pounds - overweight - to 115). Simply could not eat hardly anything and was extremely ill. I have since learned this is the worst thing you can do for your liver. Weight loss too fast. I am thinking that may have started this off even back then as I found one of my old labwork test result papers from 06/12/2006 and my ALK P was at 133 (normal 35-104) and my SGOT and SGPT were elevated. I may have had the start of the fatty liver and didn't know it.
Well what has happened to me is that when I had a follow-up ultrasound done they discovered a small 1 cm lesion had appeared on my liver. Doctor said we'll just watch it and have another ultrasound done in about a month. He figured it was a simple hemangioma. So I had another ultrasound done going on about a month ago. Unfortunately it seems I have now acquired another small lesion near my gallbladder and the previous 1cm lesion has grown to 1.35cm. Not too happy about that at all. I did have 2 cancer detecting bloodwork tests done and as of this past Thursday they were both negative. Still, VERY worried.
I go in this coming Monday for an MRI as doctor wants to try to determine exactly what type of lesions these are. They just don't know right now.
But far as a fatty liver, what you and I both have is called NASH or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The cell damage between this and alcoholic hepatitis looks identical under a microscope. There are extra fat deposits, particular structures known as Mallory's hyaline bodies, and infiltration of the liver cells with infection-fighting white blood cells.
I guess they say this NASH affects many women who are overweight, between the ages of 40-60 years (I am 58). Sometimes the women will also have diabetes mellitus or sugar diabetes. NASH does have a 10-20% chance of progressing to cirrhosis of the liver (that is the bad part about this). There is no proven therapy or cure for this disorder and that's really a bummer.
Weight loss is often advised though, but not too fast or it can damage your liver more as I wrote earlier. I have just started on taking two 400 international units of d-alpha vitamin e pills a day. This is supposed to be helpful in getting our livers back on the right track.
I tend to carry my extra weight in the front, the worst possible place. It all seems to be in the belly area. I have bloating problems because of this condition and pain accompanies mine. Some doctors will tell you that a fatty liver will show no pain, well mine did, even before the 2 lesions were discovered. Each person is different. I have lost about 10 pounds already though over the last 3 months - alittle fast, but I feel nausea sometimes and just not that hungry. The pain doesn't help either. STILL my stomach area seems much too large for the rest of me and that worries me. I am down to about 137 pounds and am 5'2". I need to get to 125, which I definitely plan on doing and then staying there. This menopause has wrecked havoc on my weight condition. I'll just have to try harder and because I now KNOW I have to keep trim, I will.
In answer to your worst and best case scenarios - worst case is your NASH goes into cirrhosis, which in turn can (but not always) go into liver cancer. But remember, your liver is very versatile and self-healing if properly taken care of. You can live fine with a good portion of it missing, if need be.
You have to figure out what is causing this to happen, if you can, and correct it. I wonder if my anti-anxiety drug Xanax caused some of my damage? I was taking three .5 pills a day for the last 9 years due to ringing in the ears and high anxiety issues/panic attacks. I have since cut that dose to 1/2 of what I was taking. It's hard to do though as withdrawal symptoms really are the pitts. I hope to eventually wean entirely off them and just take when needed instead of daily, but not sure what reaction I'll be having to stress, etc. I still have to ask my doctor if he thinks the Xanax might have been a contributing factor. Certain medications most definitely can cause this to happen to our livers. I read where you wondered if your meds had some effect. Depending on what you are taking, that's a very strong possibility and should be looked into with your doctors.
The BEST case scenario is that you won't develop any further damage, no lesions will appear and by perhaps watching your diet, losing weight if you need to, your liver and spleen will get back on track. As far as I am aware I have no spleen issue. Again, will know more next week about that after MRI. You really need to see if you can determine what might have started your issues though, to help get them resolved as soon as possible. They say even children can be affected by NASH so it's pretty widespread.
I don't know if I helped you at all on this and as I am still right in dead center of all my own liver issues. I probably will be able to shed more light later on. Still learning a great deal about it. This board has helped me tremendously Terri and I know it will you as well. The ladies on here are all great and they can be your sounding board! Plus most of them have been through much more than you and I at present.
Please keep me posted on what they tell you okay?? I am very interested to get other views on what doctor's are saying to do or not to do about this. And am worried about my health, as we all are. Ask questions of your doctors! Very important. And if they don't answer you, find one that will.
Take care Terri and hope to hear back from you. Good luck as well.