Every liver has a small amount of fat in it. With fatty liver, unhealthy fat levels begin to accumulate, leading to liver damage if not treated. There are various types of fatty liver disease, but NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and alcoholic fatty liver disease are the two main types. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the middle stage in the progression to irreversible liver damage. NASH is primarily influenced by our diet, activity, and unhealthy choices. It is a modern lifestyle disease and a silent killer.
NASH Spelled Out
When your liver accumulates too much fat, a series of events is triggered that begin the liver’s progressive damage. It starts with a simple fatty liver, then as the fat continues to accumulate, your immune system is activated, signaling it needs to fight what is causing the buildup. If the fat isn’t reduced, the immune response never turns off and begins to scar the liver. Scars tissue grows and will start to replace healthy liver tissue, in a process known as fibrosis.
NASH is the stage where fibrosis starts becoming more widespread. If diagnosed and treated here, there is a chance the liver can repair itself over time. It is often called the tipping point because, eventually, irreversible damage begins in the cirrhosis stage if not treated. Liver complications, liver cancer, and finally, liver failure follow. They call it the silent killer because it often goes unnoticed until the later stages, and there is no hope of restoring the liver.
- Pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen
- Abdominal swelling (ascites)
- Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface
- Red palms
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Influenced by Lifestyle
Chronic, excessive calorie intake and sedentary lifestyle are some of the heaviest influences in developing fatty liver disease. The liver is a resilient organ, and if diagnosed at the beginning of progression, can heal itself in due time. Early intervention focuses on spreading awareness of the risk factors:
- Heart disease
- High blood lipid levels
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
Clinical Research Studies’ Impact on NASH
Though it’s possible to reverse liver damage in most of the stages of fatty liver disease, chances decrease as time goes by. If you are at risk of fatty liver disease and NASH, making healthier lifestyle changes not only reduces your risk of developing NAFLD but also halting it in its’ tracks. Staying active regularly, controlling your weight, eating a healthy diet, and limiting alcohol are recommended. If you smoke, stop. If you use drugs, stop. You can’t live without a liver.
Arizona Liver Health is conducting FREE fibroscans, which are a quick, painless way to detect NAFLD and NASH. Our team will discuss the results and options and opportunities going forward. If your results indicate abnormal levels, we will talk to you about our research studies looking into new ways to treat NASH. There are no current treatment options specific to NASH, so this is a great opportunity to improve patients’ care and be a part of history.
Are you concerned about your NASH risk? There’s no time to waste; get your FREE fibroscan today here at Arizona Liver Health. Visit our website to learn more!