Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Image Caption : Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) : A comparison of a healthy liver (top) and an unhealthy, fatty liver (bottom). The liver is a large organ, about the size of a football, located in the upper right abdomen underneath the ribs. It plays a major part in many core bodily functions such as metabolism, digestion, and detoxification. However, consuming excess calories, especially in the form of refined sugars, can cause fat to be stored in the liver--leading to a condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD). The excess fat can lead to inflammation of the liver, which can become scarred and hardened.
Fatty Liver Disease
What is fatty liver disease?
Fatty liver disease, also known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), occurs when fat builds up in the liver and causes injury. Fatty liver disease may lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis (scar tissue), or even liver failure. Fatty liver disease usually produces mild or no symptoms. It is like alcoholic liver disease, but it isn't caused by alcohol and can occur in people who drink little or no alcohol.
How is fatty liver disease linked to overweight?
The cause of fatty liver disease is still not known. The disease most often affects people who are middle-aged, overweight or obese, and/or diabetic. Fatty liver disease may also affect children.
How can weight loss help?
Although there is no specific treatment for fatty liver disease, patients are generally advised to lose weight, eat a healthy diet, increase physical activity, and avoid drinking alcohol. If you have fatty liver disease, lowering your body weight to a healthy range may improve liver tests and reverse the disease to some extent.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases /NIH
Also called: Hepatic fibrosis
Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver. Scar tissue forms because of injury or long-term disease. Scar tissue cannot do what healthy liver tissue does - make protein, help fight infections, clean the blood, help digest food and store energy. Cirrhosis can lead to
- Easy bruising or bleeding, or nosebleeds
- Swelling of the abdomen or legs
- Extra sensitivity to medicines
- High blood pressure in the vein entering the liver
- Enlarged veins called varices in the esophagus and stomach. Varices can bleed suddenly.
- Kidney failure
- Severe itching
A small number of people with cirrhosis get liver cancer.
Your doctor will diagnose cirrhosis with blood tests, imaging tests, or a biopsy.
Cirrhosis has many causes. In the United States, the most common causes are chronic alcoholism and hepatitis. Nothing will make the scar tissue disappear, but treating the cause can keep it from getting worse. If too much scar tissue forms, you may need to consider a liver transplant.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Also called: Hepatic disease
Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons.
There are many kinds of liver diseases. Viruses cause some of them, like hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Others can be the result of drugs, poisons or drinking too much alcohol. If the liver forms scar tissue because of an illness, it's called cirrhosis. Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, can be one sign of liver disease.
Cancer can affect the liver. You could also inherit a liver disease such as hemochromatosis.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the causes of fatty liver, occurring when fat is deposited (steatosis) in the liver due to causes other than excessive alcohol use. NAFLD is the most common liver disorder in developed countries. A recent study using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found a 30% prevalence of NAFLD in the United States between 2011 and 2012.
NAFLD is related to insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome and may respond to treatments originally developed for other insulin-resistant states (e.g. diabetes mellitus type 2) such as weight loss, metformin, and thiazolidinediones. Up to 80% of obese people have the disease. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most extreme form of NAFLD, and is regarded as a major cause of cirrhosis of the liver of unknown cause. Most people have a good outcome if the condition is caught in its early stages.
The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.