Easily missed red flags of ‘silent killer’ disease suffered by millions of people

By Staff 5 Min Read

Millions of people across the country are feared to have a disease known as a “silent killer” and has a number of symptoms which are easy to miss

Millions of Brits are at risk of a silent killer disease which has a number of easy-to-miss red flags.

The liver is a vital organ which performs hundreds of important functions for the body, including converting food into energy and removing toxins from the blood. However, one-third of all adults are feared to have fatty liver disease, caused by small amounts of fat.

Although this might not initially cause any problem, over time it can lead to lasting damage to the liver. If untreated it can result in cirrhosis, liver failure, cancer and even death.

The condition often does not present with symptoms until it has become more severe, earning it the reputation as a “silent killer”. Symptoms include a dull or aching pain in the top right of the tummy, extreme tiredness, unexplained weight loss and weakness.

According to the NHS, the disease typically develops in four stages which is simple fatty liver (steatosis), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – where the liver has become inflamed, fibrosis where persistent inflammation causes scar tissue around the liver and nearby blood vessels, but the liver is still able to function normally and cirrhosis which is the most severe and occurs after years of inflammation, where the liver shrinks and becomes scarred and lumpy.

The NHS says: “There are not usually any symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in the early stages. You probably will not know you have it unless it’s diagnosed during tests carried out for another reason.”

The NHS says people should see a GP urgently or call 111 if you have any of these symptoms and have a liver condition. Which include yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice), itchy skin and swelling in the legs, ankles, feet or tummy (oedema).

If you experience any symptoms and your GP is concerned they might refer you for a blood test called a liver function test which can diagnose conditions such as hepatitis.

However, it does not always pick up on fatty liver disease. The condition may also be spotted during an ultrasound scan of people’s stomachs. There are currently no specific medications for fatty liver disease, but making healthy lifestyle choices can help.

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