Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as NAFLD, is a compound term for liver conditions that occur due to excessive fat in the liver. It is widely known that most liver diseases caused by fat are often found in people who consume excessive alcohol. However, this one happens to those who rarely drink alcohol or are teetotal.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs in ranges of severity, from low-level cases of fat build-ups like Simple Fatty Liver to dangerous ones like NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) and cirrhosis. The severe conditions are where the liver cells get inflamed, damaged, and scarred.
This article details every stage of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, revealing possible symptoms (internal and external) and its treatment procedures.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease happens in four stages according to severity.
This condition, otherwise called Steatosis, is where the liver cells take in more fat than they can accommodate. The liver tissue does not inflame or get damaged at this stage of excessive build-up.
Studies have shown that the Simple Fatty Liver does not pose any danger if treated early. You can quickly treat this condition by changing your lifestyle, as instructed by your medical expert. Some of the practices you may need to embark on include shedding some weight, adjusting your diet and consuming more healthy foods, and regular exercise.
It is important to note that if the Simple Fatty Liver is not treated, it can worsen into more severe stages like NASH. It can potentially damage the liver and cause more harm in extreme cases. Though NAFLD rarely shows symptoms in the early stage, there are a few signs of NASH you can look out for.
NASH is a condition where the liver cells store excess fat leading to inflammation and damage. Studies reveal that it is asymptomatic in its early periods. But it can worsen to cause severe problems like cirrhosis, fibrosis, and even liver failure. You can diagnose it through blood tests, imaging, or liver biopsy.
Just like Simple Fatty Liver disease, you can treat NASH disease by adjusting your lifestyle to more healthy living. These healthy activities include weight shedding, regular workouts, and a healthy diet. Aside from personal practices, you can handle NASH by treating other underlying illnesses like high cholesterol, as instructed by a medical expert.
Fibrosis is a more severe stage of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease compared to Simple Fatty Liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. In fibrosis, the inflamed and damaged liver tissue becomes scarred. This scarring can significantly lessen the liver’s functional power and also lead to cirrhosis or cause it to fail. Most fibrosis symptoms do not show up in the early period. They, instead, become visible when the condition becomes severe.
While the diagnosis for fibrosis is usually performed with liver biopsy, its treatment procedures are similar to NASH. So, you would need to adjust to a healthier lifestyle. The aim is to slow down the disease’s spread or stop it from growing. You might also need to treat health conditions associated with this disease.
Cirrhosis is the final stage of NAFLD. It is similar to fibrosis, where inflammation and damage cause scarring on the liver tissue. But in this case, the entire liver tissue has become scarred while still being inflamed and damaged. The liver can become impaired and suffer several complications.
Cirrhosis comes with symptoms like weakness, abdominal pain, and bleeding. Treatments for this condition also include physical exercise, diet changes, medication, and other lifestyle adjustments. However, liver transplants can be necessary in extreme cases.
It is important to note that NAFLD hardly shows any symptoms in its early periods. So you might only know that you have the disease once you find it in a diagnosis meant to reveal another condition. Here are the symptoms you may experience in the advanced stages of NAFLD:
While medical tests and physical examinations can reveal NAFLD without symptoms, some of the possible symptoms include:
It is important to note these symptoms will not always mean that you have NAFLD because they are also associated with other illnesses. You should always consult a medical practitioner for guidance.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is usually found in people who consume little alcohol and those who do not drink alcohol. The condition only shows its symptoms when severe, and most of its symptoms are similar to other liver diseases. While it has several stages according to severity, you can easily reverse them with a healthy lifestyle and the proper medications. It is important to take your health seriously, so if you have any concerns or symptoms, seek medical attention without delay.