Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) in Washington
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What is NASH?
There are two different disease categories regarding non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The first disease involves an excess of fat in the liver that causes no real symptoms and doesn't have any coexisting inflammation. Typically, this condition is found when other tests are being performed. If this condition affects your health, your provider can review the process you may want to take to protect your liver from more damage. This type of NAFLD is also often considered non-cancerous, but it does have the potential to become NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis).
The second type is more serious than NAFLD and is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Like NAFLD, it is also defined by the buildup of fat in a patient's liver in addition to inflammation. NASH is generally seen in people who are overweight, have diabetes or have high blood sugar, and/or have high cholesterol. Without proper care, NASH can impact liver function and cause additional health complications.
At Washington Gastroenterology, NASH is typically diagnosed by gastroenterologists or hepatologists who may partner with other medical specialists to give you comprehensive care. Please get in touch with our team today to learn more about the NASH treatment options in Washington.
What are the symptoms of NASH?
Most people who have NASH live without any symptoms. NASH may, at times, lead to liver scarring, which is called cirrhosis. If NASH symptoms do occur, they could involve:
- Constant fatigue
- Unintentional loss of weight
- Aching in the upper right part of the abdomen
If you've been diagnosed with NASH and are having trouble breathing, your legs start to swell, or you are more tired than usual, contact your local GI specialist as soon as possible. The specialists at Washington Gastroenterology can help provide care.
Am I at risk for NASH?
The cause of NASH is unknown. While it may affect young people, it most often occurs in older individuals. Additional risk factors for NASH could include:
- High blood sugar levels
- High cholesterol
- Asian or Hispanic descent (but NASH can impact anyone)
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Adult-onset diabetes (type 2 diabetes)
- Post-menopausal phase of life
- High blood pressure
Can NASH be treated?
Without treatment, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis may create other health problems, like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even liver failure. If diagnosed, taking control of your weight, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels can positively impact not only your liver, but your whole body.
After you've been diagnosed with NASH, you will want to regularly see your Washington GI specialist or hepatologist to monitor your liver. NASH treatments might include a combination of eating a healthy diet, limiting your sugar and sodium intake, and getting regular exercise. Additionally, we'll need to address any preexisting conditions that may increase the risk or severity of NASH.
Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis FAQs
What are the primary differences between NAFLD and NASH?
NASH and NAFLD are both variations of fatty liver disease. NAFLD is the accumulation of fat in the liver, yet with this condition, no damage is present. NASH is a form of NAFLD that also involves the buildup of fat in the liver, yet, in this case inflammation and damage (including scarring) have developed.
How do you detect the indications of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis if there are no symptoms?
While there may be no observable symptoms of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, you may experience extreme exhaustion or pain in the upper right abdominal area (where the liver is). Generally, the initial sign of liver disease, like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, is when cirrhosis occurs (scarring of the liver). Cirrhosis may cause certain symptoms you can look out for, such as:
- Itching of the skin
- Abdominal swelling
- Yellowish appearance to the eyes and skin
In the absence of treatment, what health complications might occur with NASH?
Without proper care, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis could result in fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. Fibrosis occurs when inflammation and scarring impact the liver. This scar tissue that arises can overcome healthy areas (liver cirrhosis), which might cause liver function to diminish or cease completely. In the absence of care, fibrosis and cirrhosis may result in liver cancer and failure.
Is it possible to reverse the effects of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis?
Those who are in the early stages of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and do not have extensive liver damage might be able to reverse the effects through lifestyle changes. These might include healthy eating, exercise, and losing weight (if necessary). However, if chronic or more severe damage is present, the effects of the condition might be irreversible. Our Washington gastroenterology providers can offer additional details about this condition.
Improve your liver health
Finding the care you need to maintain your liver health and reduce the effects of NASH can help improve your quality of life. At Washington Gastroenterology, our providers are dedicated to placing your health first, and our team takes a patient-centric approach to your care. If you believe you might have this condition or are searching for a provider who offers NASH treatment in Washington, please get in touch with our office to request an appointment with a local gastroenterology provider in your community.
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