How does diabetes affect the liver?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 22, 2015

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Quick Bites

  • Diabetes has adverse effects on the liver.
  • Transportation of fat to liver increases in diabetics.
  • Enzyme abnormalities may occur in the liver.
  • Liver enlargement is another problem diabetics may face.

Diabetes is a lifelong illness that affects the liver and vice versa. Diabetics, who are suffering from hepatitis C infection concurrently, are more at risk compared with those who are not infected. How does diabetes affect the liver? How are these conditions linked to each other? What kind of restrictions and treatments are mandatory for managing the condition? Are there any specific diabetes symptoms that suggest troubele for the liver? Some concrete facts can help in answering these questions.

Diabetes and liver

How does diabetes affect the liver?

The liver has a vital role to play in glucose regulation. This glucose is sent from the intestines to the liver, which is either stored in the form of glycogen or utilised as fuel. The usage of glucose is facilitated through insulin receptors that are present in muscle cells, liver and body fat. The insulin regulates the entry of glucose in the tissues thereby, promoting glycogen storage. It is metabolised within the liver promoting the production of cholesterol, glycogen, protein, triglycerides and LDL. These compounds help in transporting cholesterol to the arteries. When one is diabetic, the extra output of glucose produced by the liver contributes to elevation in the level of fasting blood sugar.

The accumulation of fat in the liver may also be associated with an excess of glycogen; this is a common phenomenon among diabetics that may occur as a result of increased transportation of fat into the liver or on account of decreased removal of excess fat from the liver. It is a secondary condition for obesity as well as diabetes; however, an exact correlation has not been established. The diagnosis is dependent on CT scan, biopsy reports, ultrasound imaging and blood work.

Diabetes and liver

Although, there are no specific symptoms of fatty liver, there may be associated problems concerning the enlargement of liver and enzyme abnormalities. This condition may also give rise to nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting. Vigilant blood sugar control may help in managing the problem.
To find specific answers to questions such as how does diabetes affect the liver, one must take a close look at the treatment procedures involved in managing diabetes as a condition. Occasionally, some medications that are used to treat type 2 diabetes, may, in fact, cause damage to the liver. For instance, chlorpropamide is a compound that can cause liver problems that are characterised by itching and jaundice. The contraindications will normally appear within the first few weeks of taking the medicine.

Diabetes, therefore, is a serious health condition that can cause sustained damage to the vital organs of the body. Managing and controlling the disease continually is extremely important.

Image source: Getty Images

Read more articles on Understand Diabetes.

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