Overview Of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the buildup of fat in the liver that is NOT caused by drinking too much alcohol. People who have it do not have a history of heavy drinking. NAFLD is closely related to being overweight.
For many people, NAFLD causes no symptoms or problems. A more serious form of the disease is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH can cause liver failure. It can also cause liver cancer.
Commonly Associated With
Fatty liver; Steatosis; Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; NASH
Causes Of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
NAFLD is the result of more than normal deposits of fat in the liver.
Things that may put you at risk include any of the following:
- Overweight or obesity. The more overweight you are, the higher the risk.
- Prediabetes (insulin resistance).
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High cholesterol.
- High triglycerides.
- High blood pressure.
Other risk factors may include:
- Rapid weight loss and poor diet
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Bowel disease
- Certain medicines, such as calcium channel blockers and some cancer drugs
- NAFLD also occurs in people who have no known risk factors.
Symptoms Of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
People with NAFLD often have no symptoms.
When symptoms occur, the most common include:
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
In people with NASH who have liver damage (cirrhosis), symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Fluid buildup and swelling in the legs and abdomen
- Mental confusion
- GI bleeding
Exams & Tests
NAFLD is often found during routine blood tests that are used to see how well the liver is working.
You may have the following tests to measure liver function:
- Complete blood count
- Prothrombin time
- Blood albumin level
Your health care provider may order certain imaging tests, including:
- Ultrasound to confirm a diagnosis of NAFLD
- MRI and CT scan
- A liver biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of NASH, the more severe form of NAFLD.
Treatment Of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
There is no specific treatment for NAFLD.
The goal is to manage your risk factors and any health conditions.
Your provider will help you understand your condition and the healthy choices that can help you take care of your liver.
These may include:
- Losing weight if you are overweight.
- Eating a healthy diet that is low in salt.
- Not drinking alcohol.
- Staying physically active.
- Managing health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Getting vaccinated for diseases such as hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
- Lowering your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Taking medicines as directed. Talk to your provider about all medicines you take, including herbs and supplements and over-the-counter medicines.
- Losing weight and managing diabetes can slow or sometimes reverse the deposit of fat in the liver.