If you’ve read any news about the human body in the last couple of years, you’ll know that it’s filled with bacteria and viruses that are good for us. It turns out that some of these microorganisms can also have a more sinister side.
There are currently over 200 known human diseases caused by viruses, and many of them affect the liver. One such disease is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is a silent killer because it often has no symptoms right at first. It is a serious condition that can lead to even more serious conditions like cirrhosis or liver cancer.
About half of the people with chronic liver disease have NASH, which is triggered by excess fat buildup in the liver due to poor diet and lack of exercise. To understand how serious NASH is, let’s take a look at its key components – causes, symptoms, and risk factors.
What Is NASH
NASH is a serious liver disease caused by an accumulation of fat in the liver—steatosis—not related to alcohol consumption. It frequently affects overweight individuals and is usually caused by a bad diet coupled with insufficient exercise.
NASH can be asymptomatic for a long time, and it can cause serious damage to the liver if it is left untreated. It can eventually lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. The disease seriously threatens people who do not regularly pay attention to their diet or exercise.
Because NASH symptoms are often subtle, it is commonly discovered only when serious complications exist.
As per recent studies, approximately one out of every four adults in America has NASH – a more advanced stage of NAFLD. If left untreated, it can lead to advanced fibrosis, cirrhosis, or even hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
The Causes Of NASH
NASH is mainly caused by poor diet and inactivity, which can affect anyone. Being overweight, diabetic, or having high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing it. Genetics, certain metabolic problems like insulin resistance, and certain medications like steroids, birth control pills, antibiotics, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications can also increase the risk.
Excessive alcohol consumption does not cause NASH but can worsen the symptoms. If you have NASH, you are also at risk of developing the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is when there is a fat buildup in the liver without any other complications, but it can result in liver damage and disease.
NASH is often asymptomatic at first, meaning that it has no symptoms. If left untreated, it can cause damage to the liver and other organs, so it is important to seek treatment early on. Common NASH symptoms experienced are fatigue, itching, muscle or joint pain, weakness, loss of appetite, and nausea.
You may also notice that your abdomen is distended, and you may have trouble losing weight. These symptoms are often similar to those of other diseases, making diagnosing the real problem difficult.
Therefore, it’s important to watch out for them if you have a high risk of developing NASH. If the disease is left untreated, it can lead to more serious conditions such as fibrosis or cirrhosis, which can result in liver failure.
Risk Factors For NASH
Anyone can develop NASH, but some risk factors make it more likely. These include being overweight, having type 2 diabetes, being over 40 years old, or having high blood pressure.
According to studies, males experience these problems more frequently among younger patients; however, from age 60, women experience NASH more frequently than men. There is a strong link between NASH and metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of diabetes and obesity.
You can lower your risk of developing NASH by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough exercise.
How Is NASH Diagnosed
If you go to the doctor complaining of symptoms, they may order a few blood tests to determine if you have NASH. They will also likely look at your liver and pancreas with ultrasound, as these organs are most affected by NASH.
They may also order an MRI or CT scan or perform a biopsy on your liver. These tests will help them determine the extent of the damage and if you need treatment.
How To Treat NASH
You may not need treatment if you have been diagnosed with NASH but have no symptoms. If you are overweight, you should try to lose weight and eat a healthy diet. Exercise is also important to help burn fat and lower your risk of developing diabetes and other conditions.
If you have been diagnosed with NASH, your doctor may also prescribe medication to help reduce the amount of fat in your liver. This is especially important if you have also been diagnosed with fibrosis or cirrhosis.
Your Health Is Your Priority
NASH is a serious condition that can lead to liver failure and death if it is not treated. It is often asymptomatic, so it is important to monitor your health and see a doctor if you notice any strange symptoms.
You can lower your risk of developing NASH by avoiding excess fat and sugar in your diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Top liver transplant hospitals in California