I have had symptoms that can be considered fatty liver symptoms for a long time before being diagnosed with the condition. Of course, back then I had no idea what these symptoms meant and they didn’t even seem too scary to force me visit the doctor.
However, as with any disease, fatty liver is easiest to reverse when you catch it early on, so if you have any of the symptoms below (or any other symptoms), you should visit a doctor ASAP.
The truth is – my doctor told me – that no symptoms should be ignored because we simply should have absolutely no symptoms if everything is alright.
But even though most alarm signs that our body draws (like minor headaches that we all get) don’t mean anything, when a bunch of them pile up, we should visit a doctor as soon as possible.
But until you get there, you might be wondering what are some common fatty liver symptoms.
I will share these with you, also based on my experience (what I felt) and based on talks I had with many other people diagnosed with a fatty liver.
Before we get there, it’s worth noting that many doctors say that a fatty liver won’t always come with symptoms. So, even if you don’t feel anything, you could still have it (which is the scary part).
Other people say that if you have symptoms, the condition is in a very advanced state, but that’s not the case either. Each body reacts differently to the condition, that’s all.
In other words, symptoms depend and vary from person to person, so you should not worry too much if you have many of these symptoms: the only way to know if it’s NAFLD and how advanced it is, is by visiting your doctor and running all the recommended tests.
Back to today’s topic, here are the symptoms I had before being diagnosed with a fatty liver:
Symptoms of a fatty liver
1. Pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, right under the rib cage
We’re talking about a dull pain that’s easy to live with, not too sharp, not something to write home about. I couldn’t connect it to things I ate or things I did. It was just a strange pain that came and went, sometimes lasting for hours, sometimes not being there for hours.
This is one of the most common symptoms of people dealing with a fatty liver. Some even complain that the pain is really bad and doesn’t let them sleep or wakes them up. So it can really vary in severity.
This stays well after starting your diet and changing your life style, but gets better over time, as your liver heals. I wrote a lot more about this fatty liver related pain in this article in case you want to read more.
But all in all, it’s worth mentioning that of all the symptoms that follow a fatty liver, this is by far the most common, even though doctors say that the liver doesn’t hurt.
I was always feeling extremely tired. Exhausted, actually, and I always thought that it was me working way too long – but apparently it was not (just) that.
Usually, if you feel extremely tired – especially without any obvious reason – you might have some liver problems. Might, as there are other potential causes for this as well.
Before being diagnosed with NAFLD, I started to get bloated at all times, even though in the past that rarely happened to me.
Even so, I attributed my bloating to the fact that I was eating a very unhealthy diet, but apparently that wasn’t the case as many people who have a fatty liver complain about getting bloated.
Again something that kicked off relatively late and as soon as it did, I decided to visit the doc because there were too many things piling up.
I was always feeling nausea after eating and I noticed that things were a lot worse after eating greasy foods or large meals.
Conditions improved if I took pills to help digestion (I thought that was the problem), but fortunately I decided to go check things out and I am glad I did.
While I didn’t experience this, it is a common cause of liver-related problem, including a fatty liver.
You have inexplicable itching on some areas of your body, usually your arms and legs. This is definitely a sign that you have to visit a doctor!
6. Red spots on the skin
Another symptom that I didn’t personally experience, but many people that were diagnosed with a fatty liver complained that they had it.
Although these red spots are usually associated with other problems (from allergic reactions to a plethora of other things), several people that I had talked to and had a fatty liver also had those, so they could be connected.
7. Your body asking for healthy food
This is something that sounds a bit strange, but some of you might experience it and I certainly did, so I decided to include it on the list, even though it’s not really a medical thing and some could roll their eyes hearing about your body demanding this or that.
But in my case, the week before going to the doctor and getting diagnosed, my body simply wanted me to eat specific foods: I craved things that might not be generally considered very safe for a fatty liver, but back then my diet was so poor and I never ate real, healthy food, that my body didn’t even know what that was.
My cravings back then were for toast with yogurt, milk, potatoes and salads. Even then I was silly enough to force myself into eating steaks and burgers and potato chips… and always felt bad afterwards.
But since then, I decided to pay more attention to what my body asks. (But not offer it the sugar it wants after cutting it off from the diet in order to get healed).
As you can see, there are no symptoms that can be associated with a fatty liver only and most of them are pretty vague actually.
Except for the pain the upper right side of the abdomen (which I associated with my irritable bowel initially) everything else can be easily ignored as you wait for the problems to pass. But you shouldn’t ignore them!
As I said, if you have these symptoms, you don’t automatically have a fatty liver or any sort of liver problems, just as having no symptoms doesn’t mean you don’t have a fatty liver.
But all those listed above are generally considered NAFLD-related symptoms and you should definitely visit a doctor to see what’s causing them. The more you wait, the more difficult it might be to fix the problems you’re having.
You should also visit the doctor regularly and run some tests if you are obese or overweight (I was way over a healthy weight) or if you have liver-related problems in your family.
A fatty liver could be completely silent for years and have no symptoms, so simply checking out every now and then, especially if you don’t eat healthy and have an active life, is definitely a good idea.
I know that many people are scared about going to the doctor because they are worried they might find out something… scary (I am one of those people) but delaying it won’t do you any good, on the contrary.
The sooner you know what you have, the sooner you can start taking the right steps to getting healthy again! It took me 1.5 years to reverse it and maybe I would’ve been able to do it sooner if I went to the doctor faster, when the first symptoms appeared.