Steatosis is the deposition of fat in the interstitial spaces of an organ. Specifically, many people use this term to talk about depositions of fat in the liver, and it is sometimes also called “fatty liver disease.” As a general rule, this condition is reversible with a variety of treatments, but it can cause serious complications if it is not caught and addressed.
One of the most common causes of steatosis is alcoholism. In fact, alcoholism is such a common cause that other forms of this condition are lumped under the term “non-alcoholic steatosis.” When the problem is diagnosed, alcohol consumption is usually discussed with the patient to rule out its role. If the patient does not drink in large amounts, the cause could be insulin resistance, hepatitis infection, or obesity.
If fatty liver disease is allowed to progress, it will turn into steatohepatitis, a serious inflammation of the liver. If this is not treated, cell damage and death will begin to occur, potentially putting the patient at risk of death. The end result is cirrhosis of the liver, a condition that is marked by an extreme decrease in liver function. This is not a good thing, since the liver helps the body process a variety of toxins, and without a functioning liver, a patient will die.
Treatments are focused on restoring lever function so that the body can metabolize the fatty buildup. As a result, patients are typically forced to go onto a restrictive diet that excludes substances like alcohol, which could exacerbate the condition. If obesity is the cause, patients are usually strongly encouraged to lose weight to reduce the strain on their livers. Medical professionals also try to identify the root cause of the problem, as treatment of the cause can usually reverse the symptoms.
One of the dangers of steatosis is that it often exhibits few symptoms at the beginning. Patients might feel a bit tired, or experience some abdominal soreness, but they may not be able to identify the cause. Unless a patient happens to be tested, the condition may progress until more obvious symptoms emerge, making the condition more difficult to treat. People with hepatitis are often regularly tested for signs of this problem, and they are encouraged to eat a controlled diet to reduce fat deposition in their livers.