Be aware of fatty liver, how serious can it be?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a very common disorder worldwide. NAFLD affects up to 25% of people in the United States1 and there is growing trend among young people in recent years. Generally, fatty liver does not cause permanent damage unless being inflamed (NASH). Doctors usually suggest patient losing weight and having a healthy diet to prevent inflammation but is it really enough?
It is not easy to prevent inflammation by controlling weight and diet. The research of Center for Liver Health states that most of the patient with fatty liver becomes inflamed, and one-fourth of them may develop into fibrosis2. Long-term inflammation means there are repeated damage to the liver, and permanent scarring might take place which calls fibrosis. Deterioration in liver health may occur before successful reduction of fat. Fatty liver can be seen as a potential time bomb, which may develop serious diseases like liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
There are lots of risk factors which may cause fatty liver to become inflammation, a condition known as NASH, including obesity, overweight, metabolic syndrome, etc. The prognosis of NASH is still unknown, some patients with fatty liver get inflamed without any factor mentioned above3. Worse still, many patients feel fine and cannot recognize that they have NASH at the early stage, the period to develop fibrosis can be up to few years. During the period, liver cells are attacked day by day, result in repeated damage. When symptoms become obvious, the situation can sometimes worsen to liver cirrhosis. At this moment, NASH is not treatable with any medication.
To avoid all this happen, fatty liver patients must take a more direct approach and protective actions. Maintain ALT level in a normal range and enhance recovery of the liver cells to prevent inflammation can stop fatty liver turn into NASH. Since ALT level indicates the extent of liver damage, normal ALT value means the liver is functioning well. If the recovery of the liver cells is strong, even when liver is inflamed, the cells can be repaired quickly and liver function can be normalized to avoid repeated damage and death of cells.
Fatty liver is reversible through having a healthy diet and reducing fat, but applying protective measure to guard liver health is necessary too. Keep alert and be careful when having fatty liver.
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease infomartion by Liver foundation http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/nafld/ (Assessed on 2016-6-21)
- Hui AY, Wong VWS, Chan HLY, et al.(2005) Histological progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in Chinese patients. retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15709991
- Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) - Topic Overview http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/nonalcoholic-steatohepatitis-nash-overview (Assessed on 2016-6-21)
- * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.