Unfortunately, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can occur from many related causes and illnesses. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an umbrella term for many liver-related conditions. Most commonly, NAFLD affects people who do not drink or consume large amounts of alcohol. It affects approximately one-quarter of the American population, and it is crucial to know its signs and symptoms. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is entirely preventable. If you or a loved one is affected by NAFLD, here’s what you should know.
What is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?
Simply put, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by too much fat stored in the liver cells. It can lead to health problems, risk factors, and conditions that can affect your health long-term. Although the symptoms are similar to alcohol-related liver damage, people with NAFLD do not frequently consume alcohol.
The exact cause of NAFLD is unknown by most experts. Inflammation of the liver is complex and can occur due to many different issues. However, most cases of NAFLD are linked to obesity, insulin resistance, high levels of fats or triglycerides, and high blood sugar. A combination of these conditions can lead to NAFLD and, if not treated correctly, can lead to cirrhosis. This is irreversible scarring in your liver tissue.
The risk factors associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease are as follows:
- Metabolic syndrome
- High cholesterol
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Sleep apnea
If you or someone you know has any of these conditions, you may be more at risk for NAFLD. Speak with your doctor today to discuss your status.
Fatty Liver Disease Symptoms
NAFLD often doesn’t produce any significant symptoms. This is why speaking with a healthcare provider is critical if you’re at risk. However, when it does cause symptoms, they are similar to liver disease caused by alcohol damage. If you’re showing any of these signs, consult a doctor immediately:
- Pain or discomfort in the upper-right abdomen
- Red palms
- Yellowing of eyes or skin (jaundice)
- Enlarged blood vessels
- Enlarged spleen
- Abdominal swelling (ascites)
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is often insidious, and symptoms like pain in the abdomen or fatigue are usually unreported. Many disregard these initial signs; NAFLD is progressive if not treated immediately. Staying up-to-date on annual exams, doctor visits, and protocols will prove vital.
Fatty Liver Disease Treatment
There are no proven clinical treatments for NAFLD. Most doctors suggest weight loss as the primary treatment plan. This works especially in the early stages of NAFLD, as weight loss will decrease inflammation in the liver. This can be achieved through a healthy diet, an exercise regimen, and medication. Depending on the severity, doctors will treat symptoms accordingly.
Because various conditions are linked to NAFLD, you may seek treatment for any related illnesses.
There are ways to prevent NAFLD from progressing to cirrhosis or liver failure. Spot the warning signs early. Make it a point to stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol or liver irritants, sugar, salt, or trans fats. Work with a professional to develop an exercise regimen and plan that best works for you. It’s proven that even losing 3-5% of body weight can ease symptoms significantly.
Let BASS Help
BASS Medical is one of the Bay Area’s leading experts in the medical field. If it’s time to get serious about your health, visit a BASS Medical facility today. Give us a call at (925) 350-4044.