Five Warning Signs that You Might Have a Fatty Liver

While most people visiting this blog have already been diagnosed with a fatty liver disease, some only have one or more symptoms or just signs that they might have one.

Today, I am sharing with you the top five warning signs of a fatty liver – signs that you shouldn’t ignore.

The sooner you get the NAFLD / MASLD (the new official name of a fatty liver disease) diagnosed, the sooner you can start working on reversing it.

I am not a person advocating for self-diagnosis, nor deciding upon a diagnostic based on internet research. But if you have any or, worse, more of these signs, make sure to consult a specialist as soon as possible!

Let’s get this started!

5 warning signs of a fatty liver

Unfortunately, the most common symptom of early fatty liver disease is… no symptom at all. This is why most people get diagnosed after routine checks.

However, some experience various symptoms to various degrees of intensity. We’ll go more in depth below, but here is the quick roundup of the early signs of liver-related problems and/or fatty live:

  • You’re overweight
  • You’re experiencing pain in the upper right side of your abdomen
  • You’re tired and feel weak
  • You’re losing interest in food & feel nauseous
  • You’ve got itchy skin

It doesn’t help that many of these warning signs and symptoms can be caused by a multitude of other conditions, only one of which is MASLD aka fatty liver.

However, if you have risk factors for fatty liver disease, such as type II diabetes, family history of liver disease, Asian heritage, frequent intake of sweetened soft drinks and/or you are overweight, then fatty liver disease should remain a consideration.

Always consult a doctor because they are qualified to run the necessary investigations and tell you exactly what your problem is, after running lab tests and an ultrasound (at the very least).

Now let’s get a bit more in depth with the most common 5 warning signs that you might have a fatty liver:

1. Your belly is bigger than it should be

belly fat nafld

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with obesity and visceral obesity in particular.

If you are significantly overweight and carry this weight particularly in your abdomen (belly), then there is a significant risk that your liver is suffering.

But remember, even people who are not obese can suffer from non-alcoholic liver disease.

At the same time, not all overweight or obese people have it, although most who get diagnosed are overweight or obese.

2. Pain in the upper right side of your abdomen

Upper right side pain

While the liver itself can’t “feel” pain, if it is swollen and enlarged, it can press on other organs around it and cause pain or discomfort.

So if you’re feeling pain (either dull or sharp) in the upper right side of your abdomen, under your right rib, it’s a potential warning sign of a fatty liver and you should visit a doctor ASAP.

Most people I know have had this symptom before being diagnosed (and it was one of my main symptoms too).

It can be a sign of other health problems as well, so don’t delay getting yourself checked up if you have this type of pain.

3. You are tired, weak and can’t think straight

woman feeling tired

A healthy liver is a liver that can clean your blood and make sure toxins don’t build up.

Once the liver has been sufficiently damaged by fatty build-up and/or scarring, its ability to function suffers.

The result is blood that isn’t as “clean” as it should be – leaving you feeling tired, weak and your thinking clouded.

This was again one of the things that I felt before being diagnosed – at times, I was so tired that I thought I was suffering from chronic fatigue or something similar… but it all got better after I started changing my life to reverse my condition.

4. You’re losing interest in food and/or feeling nausea

large man losing interest in food

Inflammation, your body’s response to excessive amounts of fat invading your liver, releases chemicals into the blood stream, some of which can make food much less interesting.

Also, you will usually feel nauseous after each meal. If that’s the case, make sure to see your doctor.

In my case, I had a mix of both – my body was craving healthy food and simply seeing a burger or other fatty foods, at times, made me nauseous. Also, after almost each meal, no matter what I ate, I felt nauseous.

5. Your skin is itchy

itchy skin

This is not one of the fatty liver warning signs that I had, but many people I know had this before (and after) being diagnosed with a MASLD.

While there are some voices claiming that itchiness is a sign of a more advanced condition, that’s not really the case, and you can get itchy skin even in the early stages of a fatty liver.

Again, this is something that can be caused by a plethora of other things, so make sure to visit your doctor to get the correct diagnosis.

Other more advanced warning signs of a fatty liver disease

As fatty liver disease progresses, the symptoms can progress beyond the “non-specific” to those that are a lot more characteristic of liver problems.

Jaundice, ascites (fluid retention in the abdomen) and certain skin changes are some examples of more “classic” liver disease findings.

However, you don’t want to wait until those show up. Instead, if you find yourself suffering from any of the five warning signs listed above, have a discussion with your health care provider.

It is far better to overcall it, then miss the early stages of fatty liver disease. Remember, the sooner you have the diagnosis, the sooner you can do something about it and reverse it (like I did) by changing your diet and way of living.

Final words

Most of these warning signs of a fatty liver that I mentioned above can be connected to various other health problems.

At the same time, especially if you only have one or a couple of these things – they might not be a sign that you have any sign problems.

But if you do experience them, or if you know somebody who ticks one or more boxes from the list of warning signs above, make sure to make a doctor appointment as soon as possible to get properly diagnosed.

A fatty liver disease is one that can be easily reversed by following a solid program, and the sooner you get diagnosed (as it has three stages / grades), the easier it will be to reverse it.

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4 thoughts on “Five Warning Signs that You Might Have a Fatty Liver”

  1. Hi Lynn. You provide a valuable service with this information. Thank you.

    A fibroscan in January 2021 showed I have Stage 3 fatty liver with a CAP(dB/m) of 380. I went on a diet, quit pizza and burgers, and got that down to 304 in July.
    I drink like a fish, a half bottle of whiskey almost every day, yet my fibrosis level is the minimum at F0-F1 and all my blood work is normal except my red blood cell count is a little low, and an occasional dull ache in my liver area. Getting a little lazy with the diet and am getting another fibroscan six months after the last one.

    • You definitely have to stop drinking if you want to get rid of the problems. Even if things are not looking (that) bad now, alcohol is really doing a lot of harm – especially so much and so often.

      I can imagine that it’s difficult to do it when habit sets in, but it has to be done!


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