What is it?
Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is an accumulation of excess fatty tissue in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol use. Normally there is less than five percent of fatty tissue in the liver. However, if more than five to ten percent of the liver’s total weight is fat, then it is called fatty liver (steatosis). Fatty liver can lead to inflammation of the liver known as non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which can ultimately lead to liver fibrosis. Fibrosis can progress to cirrhosis. Furthermore, some patients with NASH and cirrhosis can develop liver cancer.
Who are at risk?
NAFLD tends to develop in people who:
- Have diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Overweight or obese
How common is it?
In the United States, it is the most common form of chronic liver disease. This disease can affect anyone, even children. People are more likely to develop NAFLD as they get older. It is less common in African Americans and more common in Hispanics and then non-Hispanic whites. This disease is more common in people who are obese or a Type 2 diabetic. People with NAFLD have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease which is the most common cause of death in people with NAFLD.
Usually there are no symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, as the condition/disease worsen one can present with enlarged liver, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, swelling in the belly, nausea, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), pain in the upper right abdomen, spider like blood vessels, fluid buildup and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites), and mental confusion.
There are currently no medical treatments for NAFLD. Some doctors may recommend Vitamin E for patients with NAFLD and Omega 3 fatty acids. Additionally, they may prescribe medications that help conditions affecting NAFLD such as diabetes. However, the best treatment right now is eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help prevent liver damage from starting, or reverse it in the early stages.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Limit alcohol intake
- Only take medicine that you need and follow during recommendations
Call our office at 662-280-8222 or email [email protected] if you have questions.
Ulric Duncan MD, Diplomate of Obesity Medicine
9140 Highway 51 North
Southaven MS 38671>
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