Doctors consider grade 1 fatty liver disease a mild form of the condition. During this stage, the fat buildup in the liver has not caused significant damage.

Fatty liver is one of the leading causes of liver disease in the United States. Researchers estimate that it affects approximately 24% of adults in the U.S.

Nonalcohol-related, or non-alcoholic, fatty liver disease (NAFLD), or fatty liver, occurs when excess fat builds up in the liver, leading to inflammation, damage, and reduced functioning. There are two types of NAFLD, nonalcohol-related fatty liver and nonalcohol-related steatohepatitis. The distinction between the two is clear after a biopsy.

A healthy liver typically contains a small amount of fat. However, if it reaches 5–10% of the liver’s weight, it can become an issue.

This article will provide an overview of grade 1 fatty liver, including its signs and symptoms, risk factors, and possible causes.

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Grade 1 fatty liver is also known as simple or mild fatty liver. It is the least severe type of fatty liver disease. At this stage, the fat buildup in the liver has not yet caused significant damage.

Most people will only develop grade or stage 1 fatty liver. Often this occurs without them even knowing it. Doctors typically find it when they run tests for other reasons.

It is important to address the condition to prevent the progression of fat buildup leading to more severe stages. However, this progression generally only occurs in a small number of cases.

Typically, fatty liver is a silent disease with little to no symptoms. This is especially the case for grade 1 cases since the fat deposit in the liver is mild.

However, in some cases, a person may feel tired or have some discomfort in the upper right side of their abdomen.

Without treatment, a person may develop cirrhosis. This is the most severe stage of fatty liver disease, also known as grade 4.

More research is still necessary to determine the exact causes of NAFLD.

However, some research suggests that certain health conditions, genes, diet, and the digestive system may play a role.

Health conditions that can lead to NAFLD include:

Other causes of grade 1 fatty liver disease include:

Although there is no specific cause of fatty liver, researchers have identified certain factors that can increase the risk of its development.

These include having:

Other risk factors include smoking and being over the age of 50.

There is currently no specific treatment for fatty liver.

Instead, doctors suggest lifestyle modifications to address risk factors such as obesity and diabetes. Research indicates that losing at least 3–5% of body weight can reduce fat in the liver.

Lifestyle modifications can include:

  • safe weight loss, if needed
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • regular exercise
  • dietary changes
  • not smoking
  • reducing alcohol intake, if applicable

It is best to seek medical attention if a person has abnormal liver enzymes on blood tests and fatty liver on abdominal imaging. Early detection and management of fatty liver is important in preventing disease progression and cirrhosis.

Doctors can perform a thorough evaluation and suggest lifestyle modifications or treatments based on the individual’s medical exam, history, and risk factors.

Since lifestyle modifications can address the majority of risk factors for fatty liver, it may be possible to prevent its development. However, research is ongoing, and scientists do not know the exact causes of the condition.

The most effective approach to preventing fatty liver disease is to maintain a moderate weight, incorporate regular exercise, limit alcohol consumption, and take medications for underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

If fatty liver progresses, a person may eventually develop irreversible damage to their liver.

Without treatment, fatty liver can lead to several complications, including:

The following section answers some common questions about grade 1 fatty liver disease.

Is grade 1 fatty liver reversible?

Since the fat buildup with grade 1 fatty liver is mild, people can reverse it through lifestyle modifications and addressing the relevant risk factors. Research suggests that losing at least 3–5% of body weight can reduce fat in the liver.

Is grade 1 fatty liver serious?

Grade 1 fatty liver is the mildest form, and the fat buildup at this point is still relatively harmless. However, it is important to address it, since it is possible for the condition to progress. If this happens, there can be irreversible damage to the liver, severely impacting its function.

Fatty liver occurs when there is a buildup of fat in the liver. Typically, a healthy liver has a small amount of fat. Fatty liver occurs when approximately 5–10% of the liver’s weight is fat.

The condition has four severity groups, with grade 1 being the mildest form with the lowest fat buildup. People with grade 1 fatty liver do not typically experience any symptoms. However, if the condition progresses, it can lead to irreversible damage to the liver, including the development of cirrhosis.

There is no specific treatment for grade 1 fatty liver. However, research suggests that lifestyle modifications to address risk factors such as obesity and diabetes can prevent the condition from developing.