Fatty liver also known as hepatic steatosis occurs when an excess amount of fat builds up in the liver cells. A small amount of fat is considered normal, but greater than 5% of fat in liver cells means ‘fatty liver’. Excess of fat in the liver can lead to liver inflammation and scarring which harms the liver and in severe case of scarring leads to liver failure.

Fatty liver is associated with type 2 diabetes, other disorders related to insulin resistance and obesity. If untreated, it can cause severe liver disorder and other health complications. Excess alcohol intake may also cause fatty liver.

A broad category of non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD) covers a number of fatty liver conditions. Further, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more serious liver disorder may also develop, over time. In NASH too much of fat deposits leads to inflammation of liver cells. Ultimately, this may lead to fibrosis or scar tissue as liver cells die off due to repeated injury. NAFLD raises the risk of other diseases such as cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and kidney disorders.

Fatty liver and its impact on liver health

Risk Factors

  • Obesity
  • Excess belly fat
  • High intake of refined carbs
  • Excess consumption of sugary beverages
  • Insulin resistance


In most cases, fatty liver does not show any symptoms. But you may feel fatigued and experience pain or discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen.

If fatty liver leads to NASH, the person may experience symptoms including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, yellowing of skin and eyes in case of jaundice, swelling of the abdomen and legs, itchy skin, severe abdominal pain and breast enlargement in men.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Complete physical examination, certain blood tests like liver function tests and CT scan are done to diagnose fatty liver. Lifestyle modification and dietary changes play a vital role in reversing the condition. Doctor may advise to limit alcohol intake, lose weight, go for low-fat diet along with regular exercise to manage fatty liver.