Liver conditions are usually attributed to the excessive consumption of alcohol, viruses or morbid obesity. However, there is a condition that affects the liver that is caused by none of the aforementioned risk factors. It is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
NAFLD is diagnosed when the patient has too much fat stored in their liver cells. Typically, NAFLD causes no noticeable signs or symptoms other than, in some cases, fatigue, pain or tenderness in the upper right portion of the abdomen.
People at risk for NAFLD include those with:
- High cholesterol
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Metabolic syndrome
- Obesity when it is concentrated in the abdomen
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Hypopituitarism (underactive pituitary gland)
If you have NAFLD, you are at greater risk of developing a more serious condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
NASH is a more aggressive form of fatty liver disease that may progress into cirrhosis (scaring of the liver) and ultimately liver failure.
The signs and symptoms of NASH are:
- Abdominal swelling
- Enlarged blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface
- Enlarged spleen
- Red palms
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Although experts do not know exactly what causes NFLD and NASH, for some it is believed the combination of the health issues listed above may cause excess fat to become toxic to the cells in the liver. The risk factors cause the liver to inflame and develop scar tissue or cirrhosis. The treatment for this condition varies.
The best way to reduce your risk of NAFLD is to implement a healthy plant based diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, maintain a healthy weight and, after conferring with your physician, choose an exercise plan that is right for you.
If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of NAFLD or NASH and the symptoms persist, it is important you seek the advice of a doctor. If you would like to make an appointment at the Flushing Hospital Medical Center Ambulatory Care Center, call CTA
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.