Fatty liver disease may produce symptoms around the mouth

Liver Disease: Expert discusses risks and symptoms

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Rates of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are growing apace in Western countries, affecting an increasing number of younger adults year after year. Sometimes, the condition causes nutritional deficiencies that produce their own spectrum of clinical symptoms. A rash around the mouth, for instance, could signal that liver dysfunction is compromising concentrations of zinc in the blood.

Chronic liver diseases such as NAFLD have been known to hinder the absorption of certain nutrients like zinc.

As such, many people who have abnormal levels of fat in their liver also have an underlying zinc deficiency.

This was reinforced in a study published in the journal Metabolism Open in 2021, which proposed a number of potential causes for the prevalence of zinc deficiency in fatty liver patients.

The report stated: “Patients with NAFLD were shown to have significantly reduced serum zinc concentrations compared with controls.”

Additionally, these lower zinc concentrations were found to be associated with the higher stages of liver fibrosis in patients with diagnosed NAFLD.

The authors stated that insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, decreased absorption from the gastrointestinal tract and inadequate dietary intake could all be potential causes for low zinc levels.

In 2022, a meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients explained that Zinc is an essential trace element for the maintenance of life because it acts as a centre of activity of cofactor for hundreds of enzymes.

Expert nutritionist Emma Derbyshire, working with Bassetts Vitamins, explained: “Zinc is a mineral that helps to contribute to the normal function of the immune system.

“[It] is known to modulate antiviral and antibacterial immunity and regular inflammatory response.

“When it comes to zinc intakes, about 18 percent of 11- to 18-year-olds and one in 20 adults have daily zinc intakes below lower thresholds.”

The authors of the 2022 report also pointed out that zinc deficiency is intimately tied to dermatitis.

Thus, suboptimal zinc levels can trigger a variety of symptoms that surface on the skin.

It has long been known, for example, that dermatitis commonly produces skin irritation around the mouth.

The irritation looks like a rash consisting of small fluid-filled bumps that may seem solid to the touch.

The American Academy of Dermatology explains: “If you have a rash around your mouth, you may have periodical dermatitis.

“This rash often looks like small, red, acne-like breakouts in people with light-coloured skin and skin-coloured breakouts in people who have skin of colour.”

A compromised liver may also spur other symptoms on the face, such as puffiness, itching and rosacea.

Nonetheless, it’s important to note that a great number of patients with NAFLD do not experience any symptoms whatsoever.

Fortunately, past research led by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro suggested zinc supplements may reduce lipid accumulation in the liver but also improve liver damage.

Individuals considering taking zinc supplements are advised to see professional advice first, however.

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