Tag Archives: health problems

The Dangers of a Fatty Liver

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic fatty liver disease are two subtypes of a dangerous condition whereby a person’s liver is comprised of over 5-10% fat. While fatty liver disease is generally a reversible condition, if it is left unchecked, it can be fatal in its later stages.

What Are the Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty liver disease can be asymptomatic initially, or it may cause such symptoms as: fatigue, weight loss or loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, confusion or poor concentration. It may also cause an enlarged liver. Eventually, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can lead to cirrhosis (irreversible scarring) of the liver, which is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Gynecomastia
  • An enlarged spleen
  • Enlarged blood vessels under the skin
  • Jaundice (yellowed skin)
  • Reddened palms

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by exactly what its title suggests: consuming too much alcohol. It could be the result of long term alcoholism, or it could even be caused by one or two large-scale drinking binges. Some people have a genetic predisposition that may prevent their body from efficiently breaking down alcohol, making them more likely to develop alcoholic fatty liver disease. Luckily, many cases of alcoholic fatty liver disease are reversible if the person abstains from drinking more alcohol, but if it is left untreated and the person continues to drink, they are risking deadly liver complications.

Causes of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

While every case is different and the exact causes aren’t always pinpointed, some causes may include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Losing a large amount of weight too quickly
  • Certain medications
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Certain viruses
  • High triglyceride level in the blood or high cholesterol
  • A chronically poor, or high fat diet may contribute
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • Insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes is highly associated with fatty liver disease)
  • Those with diabetes, thyroid problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome or sleep apnea are at higher risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease than others.
  • Rarely, pregnancy can cause fat to build up in the liver

Diagnosis and Treatment

Fatty liver disease is typically diagnosed when routine blood test screening of the liver (such as the ALT or GTT test) shows abnormal readings. It can also be diagnosed if the liver feels enlarged during a physical examination or ultrasound test. The doctor will likely order further tests to confirm his or her suspicion of a fatty liver. Treatment for fatty liver disease usually focuses more on lifestyle modification and treating comorbid conditions such as hyperglycemia or high cholesterol. If the person has alcoholic fatty liver disease the primary objective is break the dependency and have the patient quit drinking completely. If the patient is overweight, a healthier diet would be implemented and weight loss of 5-10% of the person’s overall body weight would be recommended.

That concludes our look at fatty liver disease, thank-you for visiting DocChat!

A Look at Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity rates have been steadily climbing over the past few decades which bodes ill for the future health status of our children. Let’s take a look at some of the facts:

  1. From 1980 to 2012, the percentage of children under 12 who were obese rocketed from 7% to 18%.
  2. In 2013 over 42 million children in the world were obese.
  3. Approximately 70% of obese children already have one or more heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol or blood pressure.
  4. Obese children are more prone to such health complications as joint problems, sleep conditions and psychological issues such as low self-esteem.
  5. Obese children are at greater risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
  6. The number of children with type 2 diabetes has risen 5% of all newly diagnosed cases in 1994 to approximately 20% of newly diagnosed cases today.
  7. Studies show that obese toddlers and children are more likely to be obese as adults
  8. Schools can help reduce the rates of childhood obesity by implementing policies like mandatory fitness classes, health lessons that teach about the dangers of obesity as well as serving healthier lunches.

Tips for Parents to Help Curb Childhood Obesity

While schools can help prevent or reduce childhood obesity, parents can have the most influence. Here are some tips for parents to help their child maintain a healthy weight:

  1. Make steps toward a healthy diet for your whole family – try to cut out or drastically reduce intake of high fat snacks like chips, bars and cookies, and stock up on fruits and veggies. Also try to introduce more healthy protein like meat, beans and whole grains, limit sodium, reduce portion sizes and encourage everyone to drink more water.
  2. Use substitutions to make favorite family dishes healthier.
  3. Promote physical activity by exercising as a family.
  4. Encourage your children to participate in extra curricular sports like karate or tennis.
  5. Send your children outside to play with friends – children should get approximately an hour of physical activity daily.
  6. Set a technology time limit for your family – there is a strong link between too much screen time and childhood obesity.

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Can Consuming Too LITTLE Sodium Also Be Dangerous?

Sodium is an electrolyte that is essential for stabilizing water balance in and around cells. We’ve all heard that consuming too much salt can be detrimental to health by contributing to such ailments as heart disease and obesity, but did you know that taking in too little salt can come with its own extensive and dangerous set of problems? Some of those include:


Hyponatremia is a health condition that arises when sodium levels in the blood drop dangerously low (usually under 135 mmol/L). This over-dilutes the sodium in the body which can adversely affect blood cells by making them distort and swell. This can become life threatening if levels go below 120mmol/L without treatment.

Symptoms to Recognize

According to the Mayo Clinic, notable symptoms of hyponatremia include:

  • Mental fuzziness such as confusion
  • Irritability or other mood changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme muscle cramps or weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • In extreme cases coma may ensue

Who Gets Hyponatremia?

  1. Athletes are frequent victims of hyponatremia if they train too hard without replenishing electrolytes. Did you ever watch a marathon on TV and wonder why some athletes were doubling over, nearly crippled before the finish line? That is due to hyponatremia brought on by dehydration. It is important for athletes to use specially designed electrolyte packets or drinks with electrolytes when training vigorously or in the sun.
  2. The elderly are more sensitive to salt, and therefor are recommended to only have 1500 mg daily, however, elderly people are also more vulnerable to hyponatremia if their intake is too low, so they should get regular blood-iodine checks.
  3. People with certain health conditions such as kidney, liver, heart, thyroid or adrenal function problems are more likely to develop hyponatremia.
  4. People taking certain medications such as antidepressants or diuretics (water pills) should pay close attention to their symptoms and have their doctors periodically check on sodium levels.

Other Health Consequences of Not Taking in Enough Sodium

  • Heart Risks of Low Blood-Iodine Levels – We all know too much sodium can lead to hypertension and other heart problems, but a few notable medical studies have also outlined a correlation between highly sodium-restricted diets and premature mortality rates in those with cardiovascular disease as well. So it is important for patients with CVD to stick closely to their doctor’s sodium intake recommendations.
  • Diabetes dangers – there have been studies conducted outlining the possibility that low salt intake may trigger insulin resistance, this contributing to diabetic attacks in some patients.
  • Premature babies – Pregnant women who don’t get enough salt are at greater risk of having a premature baby, or one who with delayed neurodevelopment.
  • Compromised mental functioning in children – children with iodine deficiencies display lower cognitive functioning and tend to score lower in IQ tests.

How Much Sodium Do We Need?

The FDA recommends a daily sodium intake of less than 2300mg for most healthy people except a drop to 1500 mg daily after age 53, for children or following a doctor’s recommendation for health reasons. It is also important to try not to meander north or south of the appropriate recommended value so as not to let sodium levels drop too low either.

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