Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. As the name implies, the main characteristic of NAFLD is too much fat stored in liver cells.
NAFLD is increasingly common around the world, especially in Western nations. Some individuals with NAFLD can develop nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an aggressive form of fatty liver disease, which is marked by liver inflammation and may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure. This damage is similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use.
NAFLD usually causes no signs and symptoms. When it does, they may include;
- Pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen
Possible signs and symptoms of NASH and advanced scarring (cirrhosis) include;
- Abdominal swelling (ascites0
- Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface
- Enlarged spleen
- Red palms
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
There is no specific medication or procedure to treat NAFLD. Instead, the doctor will recommend several important lifestyle changes. These include;
- Losing weight if the person is obese or overweight
- Eating a diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Exercising at least 30 minutes daily
- Controlling cholesterol and blood glucose levels
- Avoiding alcohol
For those who have cirrhosis due to NASH, liver transplantation may be an option.
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