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Liver Disease: Expert discusses risks and symptoms

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Fatty liver disease is an umbrella term for a build-up of fat in the liver. An accumulation of fat in the liver is either alcoholic-related or non-alcoholic-related. The latter is closely aligned with poor health markers, such as obesity. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) does not usually produce symptoms until the condition progresses to a more serious stage.

If the condition progresses to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), it signals you have inflammation and liver cell damage.

As Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains, sometimes liver damage causes long-term scarring and hardening of your liver – this is called cirrhosis.

NASH that turns into cirrhosis could cause these symptoms:

  • Extra fluid buildup (fluid retention)
  • Internal bleeding
  • Muscle wasting
  • Confusion.

“These symptoms may look like other health problems,” notes Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.”

How is NAFLD diagnosed?

The NHS explains: “NAFLD is often diagnosed after a blood test called a liver function test produces an abnormal result and other liver conditions, such as hepatitis, are ruled out.”

But blood tests do not always pick up NAFLD.

“The condition may also be spotted during an ultrasound scan of your tummy,” says the NHS.

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This is a type of scan where sound waves are used to create an image of the inside of your body.

Am I at risk?

Experts don’t know exactly why some people accumulate fat in the liver while others do not.

Similarly, best cheap metformin there is limited understanding of why some fatty livers develop inflammation that progresses to cirrhosis.

However, as the Mayo Clinic explains, NAFLD and NASH are both linked to the following:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Insulin resistance, in which your cells don’t take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycaemia), indicating prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • High levels of fats, particularly triglycerides, in the blood.

“These combined health problems appear to promote the deposit of fat in the liver,” explains the health body.

“For some people, this excess fat acts as a toxin to liver cells, causing liver inflammation and NASH, which may lead to a buildup of scar tissue in the liver.”

How to stop NAFLD getting worse

If you have NAFLD, you can make lifestyle changes to help stop it getting worse.

One of the most important interventions you make is to lose any excess weight.

Bupa explains: “This can reverse some of the build-up of fat and even some of the fibrosis in your liver.

“It’s important not to lose weight too quickly though, because this could cause problems with your liver .”

Increasing the amount of exercise you do will help you to lose any excess weight you may have – this is vital to staving off the risk of further complications, such as heart disease.

As Bupa notes, it may also help to reduce damage to your liver even if you don’t successfully lose any weight.

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