Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, for short is “a term for a range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat in the liver” say the NHS. Cases of NAFLD, like other conditions, are going up around the world, particularly in western nations. There are five key signs and symptoms to look out for that could indicate the presence of a condition known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, for short. The sooner these symptoms are spotted, the sooner they can be treated.
The symptoms of NASH, a condition that can develop alongside NAFLD include:
• Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
• Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface
• Enlarged spleen
• Abdominal swelling
• Red palms
As well as NAFLD, these symptoms may also be a sign of advanced scarring; also known as cirrhosis.
In the UK, NAFLD is estimated to affect millions.
It is reckoned that one third of the population has early symptoms of the condition.
The NHS says that “Early-stage NAFLD does not usually cause any harm”.
However, much like other conditions, if one lets the condition get worse then it can cause serious health problems.
Although there is no specific medication to treat the condition, if it is more advanced medicine can be used to manage the side effects of the condition.
If there is severe cirrhosis of your liver, and the organ stops working properly, a transplant may be recommended.
For some this could require a whole transplant whilst for others only a section of the liver may need to be removed.
Fortunately, since the liver can grow back, it should return to a normal size after the operation.
There are a number of factors that will increase the risk of developing NAFLD.
Weight will be a major factor, as will whether a person has a smoking habit..
People over the age of 50 are at greater risk too, so are those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Those with metabolic syndrome, a condition that combines diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, are also at greater risk of developing NAFLD.