According to estimates, Diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes, is as of now the most prevalent cause behind the development of liver disorders. It would not be incorrect to add that an exhaustive spectrum of ailments related to the liver can be seen in patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
This ranges from the presence of atypical liver enzymes, liver cirrhosis, acute liver failure, non alcoholic variant of fatty liver disease to carcinoma of the liver. Also, the unexplained link between diabetes and hepatitis C also exists.
Liver Problems Associated With Diabetes
Unfortunately, the risk of suffering from cirrhosis escalates, especially in case you or your dear one is a diabetic. A minimum of eighty percent (80%) of all patients diagnosed with liver cirrhosis also have glucose intolerance. If an individual has both, Type 2 diabetes and liver cirrhosis, the former condition mostly takes a turn for the worse.
The prevalence of cirrhosis in diabetic people, however, varies to a great extent. It is believed that obesity is an important factor that helps determine the prevalence of cirrhosis in Type 2 diabetes. As compared to non-diabetics (who do not have cirrhosis), those with both, liver cirrhosis and diabetes tend to suffer from more life threatening complications, including gastrointestinal haemorrhage.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a worrisome liver disease linked with diabetes. This disease consists of several liver problems, such as fatty liver infiltration (steatosis) and non alcoholic steatohepatitis. Diabetes, when coupled with obesity increases the prevalence of NAFLD by almost 100%. Diabetics with non alcoholic fatty liver disease may experience physical weakness, mental confusion or decline in the level of appetite.
Non alcoholic steatohepatitis is characterized by necrosis, fibrosis and raised level of lipids (hyperlipidemia). This condition is most frequently seen in overweight, diabetic females. In severe cases, such patients may also need to undergo liver transplantation. Thus, diabetics must try to gain firm control over risk factors, namely, high level of triglyceride, cholesterol, excessive body weight or improper eating habits.
Deposition Of Glycogen
Surplus accumulation of glycogen is a consistent medical finding in approximately 80% of patients with the metabolic disorder of diabetes. This happens due to the activation of a liver enzyme called glycogen synthase. In chronic cases, long standing deficiency of insulin may favour activation of this enzyme.
As a result, such patients may end up with hepatomegaly, and may experience symptoms of abdominal pain, ascites and vomiting too. All of these abnormal changes may resolve with properly controlled glucose level in the blood.
Abnormal Hepatocellular Enzymes
An enzyme called serum alanine transferase (ALT) surges to an abnormal level in patients who have diabetes (type2). This type of change is uncommon in unaffected people. Thus, the marked elevation is indicative of inflammation and/or destruction of the hepatocytes.
Liver Cancer in Diabetes
Numerous medical studies state that those with diabetes are at four times more risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma, and vice versa.
Insulin resistance initiates a cycle of events which include abnormal rate of lipolysis, oxidative changes, which causes damage, to the liver cells and induces fibrotic changes followed by their accelerated proliferation. Such type of pathologic changes put diabetics at a risk of developing liver carcinoma.
Acute Liver Failure
The chances of incurring acute hepatocellular failure seem to be more in people with diabetes. The precise cause, which put diabetics, at this type of a dangerous health risk has not been established. It, thus, could be either related to the medicines, obesity or other co-existent liver conditions.