Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a very common disorder and refers to a group of conditions where there is an accumulation of excess fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. The liver cells swell up due to deposition of fat and liver is enlarged is size and is bright on echotexture on an ultrasonography examination. Individuals with this condition are labeled as having a fatty liver. In a small percentage of people fat leads to oxidative damage to the liver called as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Long standing NASH leads to increased liver stiffness called fibrosis which when advanced causes permanent end stage liver disease called cirrhosis. Dr. Mehul Choksi also provides Fatty Liver Treatment in Mumbai.
The majority of individuals with NAFLD have no symptoms and a normal examination. Fatty liver is most of the times incidentally detected when getting an ultrasound examination for some other cause or if the liver function tests (SGOT/SGPT) on a routine annual examination are abnormal. Some persons may complain of a dull right sided upper abdominal pain due to the stretch of the liver capsule in fatty liver.
Causes of NAFLD/NASH
NAFLD is part of the metabolic syndrome characterized by diabetes, or pre-diabetes (insulin resistance), being overweight or obese, elevated blood lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as high blood pressure and hypothyroidism.
Diagnosis of NAFLD/NASH
As mentioned earlier, NAFLD/NASH is incidentally picked on routine ultrasound examinations or blood tests. The causes of fatty liver due to contributing metabolic conditions have to be investigated thoroughly. NASH has to be distinguished from other serious causes of liver enzyme derangements like alcoholic hepatitis, chronic hepatitis B and C and autoimmune hepatitis. Non-invasive methods like Fibroscan or invasive methods like liver biopsy are occasionally needed to determine the severity of liver stiffness.
Treatment of NAFLD/NASH
NAFLD is a lifestyle disease. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with normal weight as per body mass index, controlling diabetes and cholesterol through diet and medication, controlling blood pressure and maintaining normal thyroid levels helps to reduce fatty liver. Aerobic exercise daily is of utmost importance.
Development of medications that could treat NAFD and NASH is an area of intense research. Recent trials in adult and children have shown that vitamin E (an anti-oxidant) could help improve NASH.
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