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What is Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)?
Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis is a condition of liver inflammation and damage caused by fat build-up in the liver. It forms part of a group of conditions called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Many may have a fatty liver but no symptoms or problems. But in others, the fat in the liver causes inflammation and damages the liver cells. Due to the damage, the liver can’t function well as it should.
NASH can get worse with time causing scarring in the liver. The scarring then causes cirrhosis. NASH is similar to liver diseases caused by long term heavy drinking.
In the early stages of NASH, there may be no symptoms but as the condition progresses and the damage in the liver gets worse, one can have symptoms such as:
- Weight loss
- Pain in the upper right abdomen.
It can take many years for NASH to become severe to cause any actual symptoms.
There is no such reason discovered yet why some people with liver fat get NASH and some don’t. Some of the factors that put people at risk for NASH and liver damage are:
- Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance
- Metabolic Syndrome
- High Cholesterol
- High triglycerides
The average age of people with NASH is 40-50 years. NASH can also happen to people who may not have any of the above factors.
Here are some ways to manage the conditions that can increase the risk of NASH:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce the cholesterol level
- Control Diabetes
- Cut back on alcohol consumption
- Exercise regularly
Also termed as NAFLD, this condition is a combined term for a range of liver conditions that affect people who drink less or no alcohol. The main cause of damage in this disease is fat build-up in the liver cells.
NAFLD is the most common form of chronic liver disease. Some people with NAFLD can develop Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
There no signs and symptoms of NAFLD but some possible signs include
- Pain and discomfort in the upper right abdomen
As there is a limited understanding of why people accumulate fat in the liver, it can be linked to the following reasons:
- Insulin Resistance
- High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
- High levels of fat in the blood
The main complication of NAFLD is long term scarring leading to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can lead to :
- Ascites- fat buildup in the abdomen
- Swelling of veins in the esophagus
- Liver cancer
- Liver Failure
- Eat a healthy diet: Choose a diet that is plant-based and rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Reduce the number of calorie intake and do more exercise.
- Exercise: Exercise regularly after getting consulted by your doctor.