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Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Posted On: February 01, 2020

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) refers to accumulation of excess fat in the liver. NAFLD was first reported in 1983. It is the most common chronic liver disease among kids and adolescent since 2007.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease has been gaining a lot of popularity in Western nations for the last couple of years. In the United States, NAFLD is the most common chronic condition you will ever come across. It affects more than a quarter of the population.

Do you know that some individuals with NAFLD can develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis? It is simply an aggressive form of fatty liver disease. Normally, this condition is marked by liver inflammation. After some time, it may progress to advanced scarring and liver failure. has analyzed some important information about this disease.

Types of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

There are only two types of NAFLD:

  • Simple fatty liver – This means that you have fat in your liver. You may not have any inflammation in your liver. Also, your liver cells might not be damaged. In most cases, it does not cause problems to the liver. People with this condition have a simple fatty liver.
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – Unlike simple fatty liver, this condition is more serious. You will have inflammation on your liver. Inflammation and liver cell damages can cause serious problems such as cirrhosis and fibrosis. It is good to know that cirrhosis and fibrosis are types of liver scarring. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is more common when compared to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

How common are NAFLD AND NASH?

NAFLD has emerged as one of the most common causes of liver cancer. About 20% of people with NAFLD are suffering from NASH.

Who is more likely to develop Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

NAFLD is common for people who suffer from other conditions such as obesity. Also, people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have this condition. Over the years, researchers have discovered that 30% of people with obesity and type 2 diabetes suffer from NAFLD.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease affects people of any age. In fact, 10% of children between two and nineteen years have NAFLD. However, old people are more likely to have this condition. Away from that, this condition occurs in people of all races. It is more common in Hispanics and less common in African Americans. It is good to keep in mind that Asian Americans are more likely to have this condition more so when their weight is within the normal range.

Causes of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Exactly how and why fatty liver develops is not clear. Health experts are still studying the causes of NAFLD. Here are some causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

  • Overweight – There is no doubt that excess body weight is one of the main causes that has been associated with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Who is overweight? Usually, an adult with an average body mass index of 28 is considered overweight.
  • Insulin resistance – What is insulin resistance? This is a condition when cells in your muscles don’t respond well to insulin. There is a problem is absorbing glucose from your blood. The main role of the pancreas is to manufacture insulin to overcome cells. People who have lifestyle risk factors are more likely to develop insulin resistance.
  • Gestational diabetes – This is a rare type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes has been known to cause health complications in both mother and baby. You can manage your gestational diabetes and prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease from developing.
  • Heart disease – There exist multiple types of heart diseases. Blockage of blood vessels is arguably the most common cause of heart disease. People who have a history of heart disease should seek medical attention to prevent Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease from developing.

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Less common causes of NAFLD AND NASH

You might be knowing that there are fewer common causes of NAFLD. We have listed some of these causes.

  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Disorders that cause your body to store fat improperly.
  • Certain infections such as hepatitis.
  • Certain medicines such as synthetic estrogens.

Common symptoms of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease causes few or even no symptoms. At times, you may feel tired or experience regular pain in the upper right side of your abdomen. In most cases, people with fatty liver disease develop complications such as liver scarring.

You should seek medical help from experienced medical personnel in case you observe the following signs and symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite – When does the loss of appetite occur? It happens when you have a reduced desire to eat. In other words, we can call it a poor appetite. In medical terms, it is called anorexia. There are different conditions behind a sudden decrease in appetite. They range from mental to physical illnesses.

Related symptoms such as malnutrition and weight loss will develop if you are experiencing loss of appetite. They can be serious if left untreated. With that in mind, you should not hesitate to visit your personal doctor in case of sudden weight loss.

  • Weight loss – Weight loss is caused by chronic diseases. Depression, viral infections and oral ulcers are some common causes of unintentional weight loss.

Cancer, HIV and abdominal infections are less common causes of weight loss. The non-alcoholic fatty liver disease will make you lose appetite. This means that you will experience malnutrition. Malnutrition will lead to drastic weight loss.

  • Weakness – The other name for weakness is asthenia. What is asthenia? It is a feeling of body fatigue or tiredness. You will not be able to move certain parts of your body if you have asthenia. That’s the reason why many doctors have described this condition as lack of energy to move crucial muscles in the body.

While some people experience weakness in arms, this condition is common on legs. Although it is quite rare, you may have full body weakness. The main factor behind this is bacterial or viral infection such as hepatitis. Weakness may either be temporary or continuous.

  • Fatigue – It is a common term that is used to describe an overall feeling of extreme tiredness and loss of energy. It is quite similar to feeling drowsy. Have you ever experienced fatigue? You can agree with me that in such a situation, you have no motivation and energy.

Fatigue is a common symptom of many medical conditions. Such medical conditions range from mild to serious. It is a result of lack of exercise and poor diet. There are possibilities that your fatigue has been caused by underlying physical or mental health condition if it does not resolve with proper rest and nutrition.

  • Itchy skin – Also known as pruritus, this is an uncontrollable sensation that makes you scratch your skin. If the cause is not obvious, it is advisable to see a doctor. After visiting the doctor, he or she will provide you with treatments for relief.

Treatment of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Do you know that the first line of treatment is weight loss? Weight loss is realized through a combination of healthy diet and exercise. If you really need to lose a great deal of weight, then weight loss surgery is the only option. Liver transplantation is the perfect choice for those who have cirrhosis.

Although no drug treatment has been approved by the FDA for the treatment this deadly disease, there have emerged few drugs with promising results.

Prevention of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

With the doctor’s help, it will be very easy to prevent this disease. You can take the following steps.

  • Lose weight – This is the right time to reduce the number of calories if you are overweight. In addition, you should consider increasing your physical activity in order to lose weight. Reducing the number of calories is the only way to reduce weight. What if you have tried to lose weight without being successful? You should ask doctor for help.
  • Choosing a healthy diet – Eating healthy food will improve your health. A healthy diet consists of fruits, whole grains and vegetables.
  • Exercise more – 30 minutes of exercise every day will keep you fit. Yoga will be very helpful more so if you are trying to lose weight. You should talk to your doctor if you hate exercising.
  • Lower cholesterol – Exercises, medications and plant-based diets will help you lower the level of cholesterol in your body.
  • Control your diabetes How can you control diabetes? The best way is to follow your doctor’s instructions. You should always take your medications as directed by the medical expert. Moreover, you should never forget to monitor your blood sugar.
  • Protect your liver – Avoid eating things that will add extra stress to your liver. For example, don’t drink alcohol. You should check your doctor before using any herbal or over-the-counter drugs.

Final thoughts

There is an increasing understanding of the risk factors for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. We have witnessed new therapies evolving out, but weight loss remains the mainstay of therapy. NAFLD cases have been increasing day by day. It is because of the increase in metabolic diseases such as diabetes.  You should try your best to follow the prevention techniques.

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