Condition

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Also known as: NAFLD, NASH

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. It usually affects people who have a high body fat percentage and may be overweight or obese.

What is non-alcoholic related fatty liver disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition caused by a build-up of fat in the liver.

Early-stage NAFLD usually does not cause you any harm.

However, for some people it can progress and eventually lead to serious liver disease, including cirrhosis, if it’s not detected early and managed or treated.

At The London Clinic, we offer simple tests that can determine whether you have NAFLD.

If you do have NAFLD, our liver specialists can help stop your NAFLD from getting worse and reduce the amount of fat in your liver.

Who is at risk of non-alcoholic related fatty liver disease?

You have an increased risk of being diagnosed with NAFLD if you:

  • Are obese or overweight (particularly if you have a lot of fat around your waist)
  • Have a poor diet
  • Have type 2 diabetes
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have high blood pressure

We recommend getting your liver checked regularly to see if you have any early signs of NAFLD.

You can do this at The London Clinic with an ultrasound scan or by having a blood test.

What are the symptoms of non-alcoholic related fatty liver disease?

NAFLD often causes no symptoms, and especially in its early stage.

You probably will not know if you have NAFLD unless it’s diagnosed during other tests, such as routine liver function tests or an ultrasound scan.

Sometimes, if you have non-alcoholic related steatohepatitis (NASH) or fibrosis, which are later stages of NAFLD, you may experience:

  • Discomfort in the top right of your belly (where your liver is)
  • Tiredness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness

If the most advanced stage of NAFLD (cirrhosis) develops, you may experience more severe symptoms, including:

  • Jaundice, which comes up as a yellow colour in the skin, whites of the eyes or mucous membranes (inner linings of the nose or mouth)
  • Itchy skin
  • A swollen belly, legs, ankles or feet

How is non-alcoholic related fatty liver disease diagnosed?

You might only find out you have a fatty liver when it’s diagnosed during tests for another health problem.

If you’re diagnosed with NAFLD, you may be referred to The London Clinic for further tests to determine what stage your NAFLD is at.

The test you’re most likely to have is a FibroScan. This is a simple, non-invasive scan that measures the amount of fat (steatosis) in your liver and scarring (fibrosis).

You may also need a liver biopsy. This involves a thin needle being inserted into your liver to collect a small sample of tissue so it can be examined under a microscope.

How is non-alcoholic related fatty liver disease treated?

The main form of treatment for someone diagnosed with NAFLD is to manage lifestyle factors that can affect it.

This may involve you losing weight, exercising regularly, reducing your cholesterol levels by eating lower fat foods, or managing your diabetes better.

At The London Clinic, we have a team of specialists who can help you make these changes to stop your NAFLD from getting worse and reduce fat levels in your liver.

Currently, there are no treatments available to directly treat NAFLD.

But these are being researched and new treatments are expected to be available in the near future.

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