Fatty liver disease: Two facial symptoms that require ‘urgent’ medical attention

Dr Hilary Jones discusses UK's 'obesity epidemic' on GMB

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The British Liver Trust pointed out two distinctive marks on the face that require “urgent medical attention”. Any yellowing of the whites of the eyes, or the face taking on a yellowish hue, is indicative of advanced disease. Medically referred to as jaundice, for those with an established liver condition, immediate treatment is essential.


The experts at the NHS explained that jaundice occurs due to a build-up of bilirubin.

Other warning signs that warrant a call to NHS 111, if you have a liver condition, include:

  • Bruising easily
  • Dark urine
  • Swelling in the lower tummy area
  • Vomiting blood
  • Dark black tarry faeces
  • Periods of confusion or poor memory
  • Itching skin.

These symptoms are likely indicative of the final stage of liver disease, also known cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis is when the liver is severely scarred, which can result in life-threatening liver failure and liver cancer.

Prior to such a dangerous state of being, there are three stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

In the earliest stages, known as steatosis, fat starts to develop in the liver.

By the second stage, a continued build-up of fat causes inflammation.

Then as the disease progresses, “lasting scars” begin to form.

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During this process, a feeling of tiredness might overcome you.

Alternatively – or in addition to tiredness – a sense of discomfort might start to develop in the right part of the abdomen.

This discomfort shows up in that area in the body as that’s where the liver is placed internally.

During the earliest stages of NAFLD, natural recovery is possible.

For most people, this will involve losing weight via healthy eating and increased physical exercise.

As an example, anyone weighing 14 stone would benefit by losing between 10 to 20 pounds.

What causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?

The British Liver Trust explained that fat can build up in the liver due to an unhealthy diet.

People who fall into the overweight or obese range are at increased risk.

This is true of people who have high blood lipids (i.e. high cholesterol and triglyceride levels).

Those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing NAFLD – as are people with an underactive thyroid.

Moreover, women with polycystic ovaries who are insulin resistant could also be at more risk of developing the condition.

In a small number of cases, NAFLD can be caused by:

  • Rare genetic conditions
  • Prolonged fasting
  • Rapid weight loss due to malnutrition
  • Starvation
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Drug treatments
  • Parenteral nutrition.

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