The liver is one of the important body organs required for digesting food. It lies on the right side of the abdomen and is the size of a football. It is also important to help the body get rid of toxic substances.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) refers to a range of liver conditions. This liver condition is usually seen in people with less to no alcohol consumption habits. The major characteristic of NAFLD is indicated by too much fat stored in the liver cells.

NAFLD is among the most common forms of liver ailment around the world. It is prevalent, especially in Western nations.

Some people with NAFLD may also develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH can be called as the aggressive form of fatty liver disease. This form of the liver condition is marked by inflammation of the liver. The condition may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure. This liver damage caused due to this condition is almost similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol consumption.

Fatty Liver Causes

There is little known about this Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is still unknown about the exact cause of the disease. Fatty liver causes are seen in some people, but not all; it is still unanswered.

NAFLD and NASH are both linked to the following conditions:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Insulin resistance: This condition lets your body cells take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin.
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia): This condition indicates pre-diabetes or type-2 diabetes

These various health problems lead to promoting the deposit of fat in the liver. In some people, this excess fat deposition acts as a toxin to liver cells. Therefore, this condition is the cause of liver inflammation and NASH. Scar tissue in the liver is built-up due to this condition.

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Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Symptoms

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD usually shows no symptoms or any signs of the disease. Just like the fatty liver causes are not known, the symptoms are also not clear.

But when the condition occurs, it includes:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen

Some visible signs and symptoms of NASH and advanced scarring (cirrhosis) include:

  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Red palms
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

The Risk Factors of Fatty Liver Causes

The conditions that increase the risk of NAFLD includes:

  • High cholesterol
  • High levels of triglycerides in the blood
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity, the condition related to the disposition of fat in the abdomen
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Underactive pituitary gland (hypopituitarism)

NASH is more commonly seen in these people:

  • Over the age of 50
  • People with smoking habits
  • People with diabetes
  • People with body fat concentrated in the abdomen

Most people show no symptoms. Although, in rare cases, people may experience fatigue, pain, or weight loss. People may also complain of inflammation and scarring of the liver (cirrhosis).

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The 4 Stages of NAFLD Development

Most people during the first stage of the disease may not even realize it. In some cases, this liver condition can progress and eventually lead to liver damage if not diagnosed and treated.

The main stages of NAFLD include:

Simple fatty liver (steatosis): This condition can be diagnosed during tests carried for any other reason. In this stage, there is a largely harmless build-up of fat in the liver cells.

Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH): This condition is the more serious form of NAFLD. This condition causes the liver to become inflamed.

Fibrosis: In this condition, the liver functions normally. But persistent inflammation causes scar tissue around the liver and nearby blood vessels.

Liver Cirrhosis: This is the most severe stage. This results after years of inflammation. This condition causes the liver to shrink and becomes scarred and lumpy. Cirrhosis of the liver is permanent damage. The condition can lead to liver failure, where your liver stops working properly. It may also lead to liver cancer.

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Diagnosis

The diagnosis can be made after a blood test. It is known as the liver function test. The test shows abnormal liver conditions.

However, blood tests are not always sufficient to detect NAFLD.

Therefore, the condition can also be spotted by an ultrasound scan of the stomach. The scan is based on sound waves to create an image of the inside of the body.

If the diagnosis is positive and the person is suffering from NAFLD, further tests are done to determine the disease’s exact stage.

The stage can be detected by undergoing a special blood test. It can also be known through the Fibro scan. This is another type of ultrasound scan.

A biopsy is also another method for the detection of NAFLD. In a biopsy, a small sample of liver tissue is taken using a needle. The sample is sent to the path-labs to be analyzed.

It is also advised that children and young age group people suffering from type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome should have an ultrasound scan of their liver every 3 years.

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Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Treatment

Most of the people with NAFLD may not show any signs of serious problems. But if the diagnosis is made, it is better to take some steps to get cured, unless the condition may get worse if left without any treatment.

There is no such specific medication to treat NAFLD. But a healthy lifestyle can help to avoid the disease.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease treatment may be recommended for associated conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol levels

Also, visit your doctor regularly to get a liver check-up done. This will enable you to know any signs of the disease so that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease treatment can be started.

Medication for The Diseases

Medicines are recommended to treat the associated conditions such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.

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Liver Transplant

Treatment of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in adults can be done through a liver transplant.

The liver stops working properly in patients suffering from severe liver cirrhosis. A liver transplant is recommended to those adults.

Adults can wait for a time frame of 135 days on average for a liver transplant from recently deceased donors.

A liver transplant is also possible using a section of the liver removed from a living donor.

As the liver has the capacity to regenerate itself, both the transplanted section of the person as well as the remaining section of the donor’s liver is able to regrow to normal size.

Prevention of NAFLD

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Diseases can be prevented by taking some measures:

Following a Healthy Diet: Choose a healthy diet composed of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Avoid junk food and oily food. A plant-based diet is suggested for a healthy liver.

Maintain Body Weight: Make sure the body mass index (BMI) is at the required level. Measure it and reduce weight if you are overweight. Obesity may lead to several diseases.

Exercise: Workout is crucial to stay fit and healthy. Prepare a diet chart and also a workout plan for a healthy body.

Avoid Alcohol: Avoid alcohol and also reduce the consumption of tobacco for a healthy liver.

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