Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)

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What is NASH?

There are two categories of disease under the diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The first involves a buildup of fat in the liver that causes no real symptoms and has no accompanying inflammation. Often, this type is diagnosed when other tests are being performed. If this condition is affecting your health, your doctor will discuss with you the steps you can take to protect your liver from further damage. This type of NAFLD is considered benign, but it does have the potential to progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The second is the more serious condition known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. It is also characterized by the buildup of fat in the liver that is accompanied by inflammation. NASH is often found in patients who are overweight, have diabetes or high blood sugar, and/or have high cholesterol. Without proper care and management, NASH can impair liver function and lead to other health complications.

NASH is often diagnosed by gastroenterologists or hepatologists who may partner with other medical specialists to provide comprehensive care. To learn more about NASH and the treatment options for this disease, please contact a GI Alliance office in your community.

What are the symptoms of NASH?

Most patients who have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis live their lives without developing any symptoms. NASH can, at times, cause scarring of the liver, known as cirrhosis. If symptoms of NASH do occur, they could include:

  • Pain or aching in the upper right portion of the abdomen
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss

If you have been diagnosed with NASH and begin to have trouble breathing, swelling in your legs, or are unusually tired, contact your doctor immediately. The specialists at GI Alliance can also help provide care.

Who is at risk for NASH?

The precise cause of NASH remains unknown. While it can affect younger individuals, the condition usually occurs in adults. Other risk factors for NASH include:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood sugar
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Post-menopausal phase of life
  • Asian or Hispanic descent (but the condition can affect anyone)

How is NASH treated?

Left untreated, NASH can lead to other health concerns, including cirrhosis, liver cancer, and, ultimately, liver failure. When NASH is diagnosed, taking control of your weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol can have positive effects not only on your liver but, also, throughout your body.

Once diagnosed with NASH, you should regularly see your gastroenterologist/hepatologist in order to monitor your liver. Treatments for NASH may include a combination of eating a healthy diet, limiting sugar and sodium intake, and getting regular exercise. Part of the treatment process includes addressing any pre-existing conditions that are known to increase the risk or severity of NASH.

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Improve the health of your liver.

Finding the care you need to manage your liver health and reduce the effects of NASH can help improve your quality of life. At GI Alliance, our physicians are dedicated to placing your health and wellness first, and we take a patient-centric approach to providing individualized services. If you think you may have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or have been diagnosed with the condition, please contact GI Alliance to locate a specialist in your area.

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