Did you know that you can get a liver disease even if you have never consumed alcohol?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is when excess fat builds up in the liver. The accumulation of fat on the liver is not caused by drinking alcohol excessively but by unhealthy lifestyle choices. NASH or Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a type of NAFLD that can severely damage the liver.
This article will help you understand the severity of NASH, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.
What is NASH?
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is caused when your liver gets inflamed due to damage caused by fat buildup. This can lead to cirrhosis, where the liver is scarred and permanently damaged.
It often develops due to a metabolic disorder, such as obesity or diabetes, resulting in a toxic buildup of fat in the liver. It is the most severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
What are the symptoms of NASH?
NASH is known as a ‘silent disease’ because many people present few or no symptoms even after the liver is affected. If the disease worsens, only then you may experience symptoms indicative of the inflammation and damage already done to your liver.
Symptoms experienced by people with NASH are:
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
- An ache in the upper right part of your belly
- Loss of appetite
What Causes NASH?
Experts are still studying the causes of NAFLD. Research suggests that certain health conditions, genes, diet, and digestive system may make you more likely to develop this silent disease.
Through repetitive studies, it has been known that people with the following health conditions are more likely to develop NASH:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Abnormal levels of cholesterol, and
- High levels of triglyceride (a type of fat found in the body).
Most infected people are 40 to 50 years old and have one or more of the issues listed above. However, remember that NASH can happen in people who have none of these risk factors too!
How is NASH diagnosed?
NASH may present with no symptoms, or the symptoms may go unnoticed, which makes this a complex condition to diagnose. Furthermore, there is no single test that can diagnose NASH.
A healthcare professional will ask you about your medical history to make a diagnosis. It includes medications that you are taking, your symptoms, and the health problems you’ve had. To see if fat is building up in your liver and to rule out other diseases, your doctor may do tests such as:
- Blood tests
- An abdominal ultrasound
- A CT scan
- An MRI scan
How can NASH be treated?
No medicines have been approved to treat NASH. Studies are investigating whether a particular diabetes medicine or Vitamin E can help. Since there are no medications, managing your underlying health conditions and leading a healthy lifestyle are the best treatment options. You can do the following to achieve a healthy lifestyle:
- Reduce your total cholesterol level,
- Reach a healthy weight: Losing 3% to 10% of your total body weight can make a difference.
- Control diabetes,
- Stop or cut back on drinking alcohol, and
- Exercise regularly.
To sum it up, NASH (Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis) is a form of fatty liver disease that can definitely be treated on time, when diagnosed early. It is important to look out for the signs our body gives us and move forward by consulting the Best liver transplant surgeon in chennai.