Swelling in five areas could signal ‘severe’ fatty liver disease

Liver disease: Doctor discusses causes and symptoms

The body relies on the liver to carry out more than 500 vital functions.

These include processing food, combating infections and clearing toxins from the blood.

Therefore, if the liver becomes damaged in any way it can have dangerous consequences.

Fatty liver disease is a serious condition that occurs when there is too much fat in the liver – often the result of poor diet, being overweight and/or lack of exercise.

In its early stages it might not cause an issue, however, if the disease develops it can cause permanent damage.

READ MORE Two signs in the tummy that could indicate ‘severe’ fatty liver disease

The final stage of fatty liver disease is known as cirrhosis.

This occurs after years of damage to the liver resulting in the organ becoming scarred, lumpy and shrunken.

If not dealt with it can even progress to liver failure or cancer.

Often, symptoms of fatty liver disease will not present until the stage of cirrhosis is reached.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, there are five areas of the body that can become swollen due to cirrhosis.

These are:

  • Legs
  • Ankles
  • Feet
  • Tummy
  • Fingertips.

More specifically this is listed as: “Swelling in the legs, feet or ankles, called oedema.”

“Clubbing of the fingers, in which the fingertips spread out and become rounder than usual,” the clinic says.

It adds: “Fluid accumulation in the abdomen, called ascites.”

NHS Inform describes “severe” cases of ascites causing a person to look “heavily pregnant”.

This swelling occurs as a result of pressure building up in the veins of the liver when it’s not working properly.

The pressure blocks blood flow in the liver and over time this prevents the kidneys from removing excess salt from the body.

This then causes fluid to build up.

The clinic recommends making an appointment with your doctor if you notice any of these signs.

Other signs of cirrhosis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Easily bleeding or bruising
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Yellow discolouration in the skin and eyes, called jaundice
  • Spider-like blood vessels on the skin
  • Redness in the palms of the hands
  • Pale fingernails, especially the thumb and index finger
  • For women, absence of or loss of periods not related to menopause.
  • For men, loss of sex drive, testicular shrinkage or breast enlargement, known as gynecomastia
  • Confusion, drowsiness or slurred speech.

To prevent fatty liver disease the NHS recommends:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Losing weight if you are overweight
  • Giving up smoking.

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