NASH: When Fatty Liver Gets Inflamed and Damaged [Video]

  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a subgroup of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease wherein the liver gets inflamed and damaged because of the build-up of fats.
  • While people with fatty liver may or may not develop NASH, several factors put you at risk for developing the disease.
  • The symptoms of NASH often show in the advanced stages, and diagnosis will include several tests, and its treatment will cover the management of the conditions that can increase the risk for NASH.

Too much alcohol intake can lead to fatty liver disease. But you can also develop the fatty liver disease even if you do not consume excessive alcohol. This condition is referred to as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

One of the subgroups of NAFLD is Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH. It is a disease where the excess fat lipids get stored in the liver causing tissue inflammation and liver damage. NASH can further progress into liver scarring, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. It can also cause liver cancer and eventually lead to liver failure.

Risk Factors

People with fats in their liver may or may not get NASH. Several factors could increase the risk for the development of NASH among people with fatty liver. Some of these includes:

  • Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
  • Environmental Factors
  • Family history of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • High Levels of Cholesterol and Triglycerides
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Median age around 40-50 years

Symptoms

In its early stages, NASH does not show symptoms. Still, as it advances and liver damage worsens, symptoms like fatigue, general weakness, unexplained weight loss, and pain in the belly’s upper part start showing.

Diagnosis

Because symptoms do not show immediately, a single test is not enough to diagnose NASH correctly. Several tests are needed to confirm the fat build-up in the liver and rule out other related diseases. Aside from knowing your health history, doctors may request you to undergo an abdominal ultrasound, blood tests, and a CT and MRI scan. To confirm if NASH has developed, a liver biopsy, where a liver tissue sample is examined, is carried out. 

Treatment Management

Treating NASH focuses on managing the symptoms and conditions that can make the disease worse. Doctors will advise you to:

  • Cut back or stop drinking alcohol.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage your diabetes.
  • Reduce your cholesterol levels.
  • Avoid taking medicines that could harm the liver.
  • Take medications that can control or reverse liver damage.

Source: Stanford Health Care


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