Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are terms used to describe liver conditions caused by excessive fat buildup in the liver cells. NASH is a more severe form of NAFLD that’s accompanied by liver inflammation and scarring.
If left untreated, these conditions can progress and lead to end-stage liver disease and, ultimately, organ failure.
This article will describe the common causes of NASH/NAFLD and how they can be detected, treated, and prevented. Read along to learn more about how to avoid it and stay healthy.
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is an advanced NAFLD form that could potentially lead to a life-threatening condition, cirrhosis. The most common NASH symptoms are mild pain in the upper right abdomen and fatigue.
If NASH leads to liver cirrhosis, accompanying symptoms may include bleeding and bruising easily, nausea and vomiting, itchy skin, spider-like blood vessels, and swelling in the legs. Risk factors for patients with NASH are diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome PCOS, poor diet, high cholesterol, and triglycerides.
How Can It Be Diagnosed?
Different tests can be used to diagnose NASH, however, a general diagnosis starts with a physical examination. The physician will review the patient’s medical history and order blood tests or liver function tests to see if any liver disease is suspected.
Additional testing methods like magnetic resonance imaging, CT scan, or ultrasound might be used to determine the final diagnosis. A liver biopsy is used as well.
There is a Fatty Liver Program that uses special methods like elastography to determine the scarring and fat percentage in the liver.
How Can It Be Treated?
NASH treatment depends on the stage of the disease and the accompanying symptoms. Most doctors recommend a weight loss program to reduce the risk of progressive liver disease stages. If you lose 3-5% of your body weight it can reduce the liver fats and help you manage the condition without other intervention.
At the moment, no medicines have been implemented or approved for NASH treatment, however, researchers and scientists work on improving the conditions and finding new cures.
In particular, in cases where a severe NASH disease takes place, a liver transplant might be required to restore the health.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease symptoms don’t usually show up in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms do show up, it’s usually a mild pain in the upper right side of the abdomen and fatigue.
If the stage is advanced, symptoms like red palms, jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes, enlarged spleen, abdominal swelling or ascites, and enlarged blood vessels under the skin might display. You should make an appointment with your doctor if symptoms are persistent or worsening.
How Can It Be Diagnosed?
Various tests can be implemented to diagnose NAFLD. From imaging tests to blood tests, up to a liver biopsy, all options are into play.
Blood tests are used for examining the liver enzymes such as aspartate aminotransferase (AST) or alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Additionally, doctors can help in identifying advanced liver fibrosis by examining and calculating special scores like APRI or FIB-4.
Imaging tests can show whether there’s fat in the liver since an ultrasound test can show lumps or nodules. Computer tomography or a CT scan is used to create images of the body’s internal organs and detect any fibrosis or obstruction. MRI uses magnets and waves to produce detailed images, while elastography is used for determining advanced liver fibrosis.
A liver biopsy is another method of diagnosing liver issues and can show how severe the non-alcoholic steatohepatitis disease can be. Your doctor may prescribe certain medicines or recommend a liver biopsy if there’s suspicion of NAFLD or malignancy.
How Can It Be Treated?
NAFLD is usually treated with a weight loss regimen, regular exercises, and a proper diet. Weight-loss surgery is recommended for those who struggle with losing weight or need to lose a great deal of it. In severe cases, a liver transplant might be needed or invasive surgery to remove a tumor and restore the body’s health.
Furthermore, some natural compounds of the alternative medicine can help control NAFLD even though no such medicine has been proven to cure the disease. Vitamin E is useful as an antioxidant since it helps the liver protect its normal function by neutralizing the damage caused by inflammation.
And according to a 2018 study, spices, supplements, and certain herbs can be used as alternative treatments. Ensure you avoid liver irritants like over-the-counter medications, ice cream, baked goods with high amounts of sugar, energy drinks, sports drinks, and alcohol.
Talk With A Professional
To take care of your health, you must follow your doctor’s rules and practice a good, nutritious diet with regular exercise.
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