Fatty liver, or steatosis, describes the buildup of fat in the liver. Fatty liver is a reversible condition that can be resolved with changed behaviors. It often has no symptoms and typically does not cause permanent damage.
The liver’s function is to process everything we eat or drink and filter any harmful substances from the blood. This process is interrupted if too much fat is in the liver. The liver commonly repairs itself by rebuilding new liver cells when the old ones are damaged.
Fatty liver is common. Most cases of fatty liver are detected in people between ages 40 and 60. When fatty liver is caused by an underlying condition, it can become harmful to the liver if the cause is not recognized and treated.
Fatty liver typically has no associated symptoms. You may experience fatigue or vague abdominal discomfort. Your liver may become slightly enlarged, and your doctor can detect this during a physical exam.
The most common cause of fatty liver is alcoholism and heavy drinking. When the body creates too much fat or cannot metabolize fat fast enough. The excess fat is stored in liver cells where it accumulates to form fatty liver disease.