Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition that affects people who drink little to no alcohol. NAFLD is growing in prevalence around the world, especially in the United States. NAFLD can lead to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-an aggressive form of NAFLD. NASH is marked by liver inflammation and can eventually progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure. Liver diseases often show no signs or symptoms until it’s too late. Connecting all the dots of NAFLD is vital to managing and preventing it.
The Many Links of NAFLD
NAFLD occurs when the body stores too much fat in the liver. While it’s normal for a healthy liver to contain a certain amount of fat, excess amounts can trigger the body’s immune system. This healing process eventually begins to damage the liver with chronic inflammation. Over time, healthy liver tissue is replaced with fibrous scar tissue. Ultimately, enough damage can occur to affect the vital functions of the liver.
NAFLD is the most common cause of chronic liver diseases in western countries. Research has shown a variety of conditions linked to NAFLD and NASH. These include:
- High cholesterol
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Metabolic syndrome
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Underactive pituitary gland (hypopituitarism)
Connecting the Links of NAFLD to Future Treatments
The good news is that you can considerably impact NAFLD when you make healthier lifestyle changes. Regular exercise, a more nutritious diet, and weight loss are some examples that can positively alter liver disease progression.
Impact research offers FREE fibroscans to adults at risk of developing liver disease. Fibroscan is a quick, painless, and easy way to determine the liver’s health and detect liver disease. If you’re at risk or worried about your liver health, contact us today. Individuals whose results indicate the presence of liver disease will be given information about clinical research studies that may help. Call us at (254) 294-4780 to schedule your appointment today, or fill out our request form online.