Fatty liver disease: Excessive bruising or bleeding could indicate your risk

NHS Choices: Liver Disease

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Fatty liver disease is when fat builds up in the cells of the liver. There are two main types of fatty liver disease – non-alcoholic and alcohol-related liver disease. As the name would suggest, the former isn’t caused by drinking too much alcohol. There are usually no symptoms of fatty liver disease, but the condition causes perceptible changes in the later stages. Excessive bruising could indicate your risk.

Cirrhosis causes the liver to slow or stop production of proteins needed for blood clotting.

Cirrhosis is the most serious stage of liver disease and typically occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue.

This in turn can lead to liver failure.

When blood doesn’t clot properly, bruising and bleeding can occur spontaneously.

As cirrhosis progresses, symptoms can include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Memory problems and confusion
  • Swelling in the feet or lower legs
  • Bloating
  • Jaundice

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In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, alcohol abuse and alcoholic liver cirrhosis was further investigated. 

The study noted: “Alcohol abuse is associated with both potentiating and antagonizing haemostatic states.

“Liver cirrhosis is an independent causal factor for many bleeding complications.

“A 39-year-old male with no significant past medical history presented with a one-week history of increasing pain in the calf of the right leg associated with bluish-black discoloration on the back of right leg from the upper thigh to the ankle area.”

The study concluded that alcohol abuse is a major risk factor which directly induces antihemostatic changes in the body and indirectly worsens the coagulopathy of liver cirrhosis.

When the liver becomes damaged, it does not produce an adequate number of clotting proteins, so a person may bruise and bleed more easily than usual.

There are a number of conditions which can lead to excess bruising.

For this reason, it is extremely important to be sure to check with your doctor if you notice this symptom.

How is fatty liver disease diagnosed?

According to the NHS, fatty liver disease is often diagnosed after a blood test called a liver function test produces an abnormal result and other liver conditions, such as hepatitis, are ruled out.

But blood tests do not always pick up fatty liver disease.

As the NHS explains, the condition may also be spotted during an ultrasound scan of your tummy.

This is a type of scan where sound waves are used to create an image of the inside of your body.

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