Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition in which excess fat is deposited in the liver, leading to inflammation and damage to liver cells. NAFLD is a growing problem worldwide, and it is estimated that up to 30% of the population in developed countries has the condition.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease causes
- Obesity: Obesity is the most significant risk factor for NAFLD. Excess body fat can lead to insulin resistance, which can cause fat to accumulate in the liver.
- Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance is a condition less responsive to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance is commonly seen in people with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, and it can increase the risk of developing NAFLD.
- Type 2 diabetes: People with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of developing NAFLD, as the condition is closely linked to insulin resistance.
- High cholesterol: High levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of developing NAFLD.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure is also associated with an increased risk of NAFLD.
- Genetics: Some genetic mutations have been linked to an increased risk of developing NAFLD.
- Rapid weight loss: Rapid weight loss, such as that achieved through bariatric surgery or crash diets, can increase the risk of developing NAFLD.
- Certain medications: Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and tamoxifen, have been linked to an increased risk of NAFLD.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease symptoms
- Fatigue: Feeling tired and lacking energy is a common symptom of NAFLD.
- Pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen: This may be caused by an enlarged liver.
- Loss of appetite: Some people with NAFLD may experience a loss of appetite or weight loss.
- Jaundice: In rare cases, people with NAFLD may develop jaundice, which is characterized by yellowing of the skin and eyes.
- Spider angiomas: These are small blood vessels that appear on the skin and can be a sign of liver disease.
- Enlarged spleen: In some cases, NAFLD can cause the spleen to enlarge.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease treatment
- Weight loss: Losing just 5% to 10% of body weight can improve liver function and reduce the amount of fat in the liver.
- Healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein and low in saturated and trans fats and refined carbohydrates can help improve liver health.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce liver fat and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Controlling medical conditions: Managing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can help improve liver health.
- Avoiding alcohol: Even moderate alcohol consumption can worsen NAFLD, so it is important to avoid alcohol altogether.