Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the build up of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat. However, if more than 5% – 10% percent of the liver’s weight is fat, then it is called a fatty liver (steatosis). The more severe form of NAFLD is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH causes the liver to swell and become damaged.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease tends to develop in people who are overweight or obese or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Rapid weight loss and poor eating habits also may lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
However, some people develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease even if they do not have any risk factors. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects up to 25% of people in the United States.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may cause the liver to swell (steatohepatitis). A swollen liver may cause scarring (cirrhosis) over time and may even lead to liver cancer or liver failure.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease often has no symptoms.
When symptoms occur, they may include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, spider-like blood vessels, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), itching, fluid build up and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites), and mental confusion.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is initially suspected if blood tests show high levels of liver enzymes. However, other liver diseases are first ruled out through additional tests. Often, an ultrasound is used to confirm the NonAlcoholic Fatty Liver Disease diagnosis.
There are no medical treatments yet for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help prevent liver damage from starting or reverse it in the early stages.
There are ways to prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:
NASH Support Group on Facebook
Visit the American Liver Foundation Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) support group on Facebook. For more details, click here…
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Last updated on March 16th, 2023 at 10:48 am