Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

|What is NAFLD|  |Symptoms of NAFLD|  |Who is at risk|  |Causes of NAFLD/NASH|  |How common is NAFLD|  |Diagnosis|  |Treatment

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What is NAFLD?

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is one of the chronic liver diseases in the United States caused due to the accumulation of excessive fat in the liver. The disease is commonly visible in people who do not consume alcohol. The condition where there is excessive fat in the liver due to heavy alcohol consumption is called Alcoholic Liver Disease. During the initial phase, when the condition is not severe, the disease is called Fatty Lever. Simple Fatty Lever doesn’t cause complications. However, some people develop more severe condition termed as Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is comparatively critical situation commonly associated with liver cell inflammation leading to liver scarring, cirrhosis and liver cancer.


Symptoms of NAFLD

The patients suffering from NAFLD usually do not show any specific signs. In some cases, fatigue and abdominal pain in the center or the right upper part of the abdomen may indicate the presence of NAFLD. However, it is crucial to consider other reasons responsible for fatigue and abdominal pain.


Who is at risk?

1.  Obese People

2.  People with Type 2 Diabetes

3.  People with Insulin Resistance

4.  Middle and Old-aged

5.  People exposed to toxins

6.  People experiencing rapid weight loss

7.  People infected with Hepatitis-C

8.  People with a bigger waistline

9.  Hispanics


Causes of NAFLD/NASH

Fatty liver or NASH are caused by:

1.  Overweight

2.  High Cholesterol: High LDL Cholesterol and Low HDL Cholesterol

3.  High Level of Triglycerides

4.  High Blood Pressure

5.  Metabolic Syndrome

6.  Bigger Waistline

7.  Oxidative Stress

8.  Production and release of toxic inflammatory proteins by inflammatory liver cells

9.  Fat Tissue Inflammation

9.  Liver cell Death


How common is NAFLD?

NAFLD is a common disorder in the USA known to affect one in three adults and one in ten children between the age group 2-19 years. NAFLD is estimated to affect between 80 and 100 million individuals, among whom nearly 25% progress to NASH. NASH is one of the most potent reasons for liver transplantation. The current annual medical and societal costs of NAFLD are estimated at $292 billion in the United States. Obesity is a common indication of the presence of NAFLD. Ninety per cent of the patients diagnosed with NAFLD are either overweight or obese.



To diagnose the presence of NAFLD, initially, doctors begin by examining the medical history and lifestyle of the patients. They might be interested in knowing if the patient has serious health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, overweight, insulin resistance or any metabolic syndromes. They also inquire if regular diet includes foods high in sugar and starch content. They also ask about any physical activity undertaken by the patient. Doctors check Body Mass Index (BMI) to detect if the patient is overweight. Several tests are carried out to confirm the presence of NAFLD. In the first place, a Blood Test is done to find out if the level of the liver enzyme has increased. Next, radiological investigations like Abdominal Ultrasound or CT Scan are done to ensure if the liver is mildly elevated or fat is accumulated in the liver. To confirm between NASH and simple fatty liver, a Liver Biopsy is done by inserting a small needle through the skin to obtain a small piece of the liver tissue for microscopic evaluation. If only fat is visible, it is diagnosed as simple fatty liver. However, in the case of fatty infiltration of the liver in addition to inflammation and scarring, the presence of NASH is diagnosed.



The following treatment is suggested to the patients suffering from NAFLD/NASH

1.  Weight Loss

2.  Physical Activity

3.  Balanced Diet (Low or no fat diet)

4.  Medication


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