NASH, or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, is a health problem in which excess fat accumulation in the liver results in inflammation and damage. A variation of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), this liver concern can cause scarring and lead to more severe health concerns, such as fibrosis. Gastrointestinal (GI) physicians routinely perform diagnostic testing and specialized care for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and other liver issues. To find out more about this condition and how it might be treated, continue reading or set up an appointment at a GI Allliance location near you. Our gastroenterology specialists are dedicated to helping you maintain your liver health and quality of life.
What are the risk factors for NASH?
The liver plays a key role in proper digestive function and assists in removing bodily waste. When the liver becomes seriously damaged, advanced scarring of the liver could develop, which usually necessitates the need for considerable treatment and care. Factors that might heighten your likelihood for NASH include:
- Being overweight
- Pre-diabetes or diabetes
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Metabolic syndrome
- Sleep disorders
- Underactive thyroid
As a progressive disease, NASH may eventually lead to symptoms that include upset stomach, bleeding easily, telangiectasia (spider veins), tiredness, fluid retention, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. To stop the condition from becoming worse, our GI specialists might perform diagnostic testing, analyze any symptoms, and employ cutting-edge imaging devices, such as FibroScan®, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to identify fat in the liver. These tests can allow our GI specialists to construct a treatment protocol that covers your health concerns.
What are the stages of NAFLD?
There are four stages of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which include simple fatty liver disease (also called liver steatosis), NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Throughout the initial stage of simple fatty liver disease, most people do not experience obvious symptoms and are often unaware that they have the condition. The next stage, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, represents a more severe level of the disease and is characterized by liver inflammation and often minor pain in the right upper area of the stomach. When NAFLD progresses to this stage, liver cells have become damaged.
Some patients who have NASH develop stage three of the condition, or fibrosis. If inflammation in the liver continues, scar tissue begins to replace normal tissue; however, there is often still healthy enough tissue to support normal liver function. In the final stage, cirrhosis occurs, which prevents the liver from functioning normally. As a result, the body is unable to filter waste properly, which may lead to liver failure.
How is nonalcoholic steatohepatitis managed?
The most important part of preventing the progression of nonalcoholic hepatitis is to implement healthier lifestyle behaviors. When adhering to good nutrition, a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and controlling other conditions, such as hypothyroidism or diabetes, the negative health consequences of this form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease may be considerably diminished. Additionally, avoiding certain medications, some supplements, and alcohol can reduce the impact this long-term disease has on the liver and overall health. Our gastroenterologists will provide guidance on the most effective options to lower the risks of NASH and help prevent further damage to your liver. Dedicated to the highest standard of care, our team members work to ensure each person who visits a GI Alliance practice is given a customized treatment plan that assists with their unique condition.
Get care for NASH at GI Alliance
Our gastroenterologists want to help you prevent the onset or advancement of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and allow you to enjoy a long, healthy life. The liver plays an integral role in your gastrointestinal system, so our physicians highly recommend taking a proactive approach to seeking care for any symptoms of liver issues. Schedule a consultation at a GI Alliance office in your community to learn more about nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and how you can help prevent it from further impacting your health.