Fatty Liver (NAFLD or NASH)

Damage to the liver caused by the buildup of fat and is similar to the damage seen in chronic alcohol abusers. When this damage is found in people who do not abuse alcohol, the disease is referred to as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD.

There are two categories of disease under the umbrella diagnosis of NAFLD. The first is a simple buildup of fat in the liver that is not accompanied by inflammation. With no real symptoms, this type of NAFLD is normally diagnosed during scans or tests for other concerns. Although this type of NAFLD is considered benign, your doctor will discuss ways to protect your liver from further fat build-up.

The more serious category of NAFLD is NASH (Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) and is also characterized by the buildup of fat in the liver that is accompanied by inflammation. Frequently found in combination with other metabolic disorders, such as, diabetes or high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and blood lipids, NASH is often associated with being overweight. This contributing factors will be addressed as part of your overall treatment.

Once diagnosed with NASH you should regularly see your gastroenterologist in order to monitor your liver. Most patients do not develop any additional symptoms, but NASH can cause scarring of the liver called cirrhosis. If you have been diagnosed with NASH and begin to have additional symptoms, like difficulty breathing, swelling in your legs and/or feet, or experience unusual fatigue, contact your doctor immediately.