Am I at Risk for Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis?
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, often referred to simply as NASH, is a health concern that results in liver inflammation and damage due to an accumulation of fatty tissue in the organ. The liver condition is a type of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and can result in scar tissue and severe symptoms, including liver fibrosis, in the absence of proper care. At Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, we are devoted to helping boost your liver health and enhance your quality of life. Our gastrointestinal (GI) physicians in DFW offer diagnostic procedures and personalized care for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and other liver issues. Please continue reading to learn more about this digestive health issue and then set up an appointment with our team to learn how it might be managed.
What are the risk factors for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis?
The liver plays a key role in proper digestion and aids in eliminating bodily waste. If the liver is severely damaged, cirrhosis of the liver can arise, which generally necessitates the need for extensive treatment and care. Conditions that have been linked to the development of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis include:
- Being overweight
- Diabetic conditions
- High cholesterol levels
- Metabolic syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Underactive thyroid
NASH is a progressive disease that can carry a variety of symptoms, such as nausea, bleeding easily, spider veins, lethargy, abdominal bloating, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. To diagnose NASH, our GI specialists in DFW may prescribe lab work, evaluate your symptoms, and employ state-of-the-art imaging services, including FibroScan®, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to measure fat buildup in your liver. These diagnostic services can allow our GI specialists to curate a treatment protocol to meet your exact needs.
The four stages of NAFLD
NAFLD is characterized in four stages, which are defined as: simple fatty liver disease (also called liver steatosis), NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), fibrosis, and cirrhosis. In the first stage of simple fatty liver disease, you may not have any obvious symptoms or even realize you have a fatty liver. The following stage, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, is a more advanced level of the condition, which leads to inflammation within the liver and may cause minor pain in the upper right area of the stomach. When NASH occurs, cells in the liver have become damaged.
In some cases, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis develops into fibrosis (stage three of NAFLD). If swelling in the organ continues, scar tissue may begin to form. At this stage, however, the tissue often is still healthy enough to support normal liver function. Cirrhosis occurs in the fourth stage of NAFLD, which causes the liver to stop functioning correctly. As a result, your body is unable to filter waste properly, leading to life-threatening liver failure.
How is nonalcoholic steatohepatitis managed?
The most critical part of preventing the progression of nonalcoholic hepatitis is to implement healthier lifestyle habits. With good nutrition, a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and the management of other health conditions, such as hypothyroidism or diabetes, you could considerably minimize the health consequences of this form of NAFLD. Additionally, avoiding alcohol, certain medications, or some supplements can diminish the impact this serious disease has on your liver and general health. Dedicated to the highest standard of care, our team members work to make sure every patient who comes to Texas Digestive Disease Consultants receives a customized treatment regimen that caters to their unique condition. Our GI doctors can provide recommendations on how to lessen your risks of NAFLD (and ultimately NASH) to help hinder the progression of liver damage.
Get treatment for NASH in DFW
Our GI specialists want to help patients throughout the DFW area protect against the progression of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and allow them to enjoy an improved quality of life. Since the liver plays such an essential role in your gastrointestinal system, our experts urge you to be proactive in seeking care should any signs or symptoms of a liver issue arise. To hear more about NASH, and how to keep it from further impacting your health, schedule a visit at a Texas Digestive Disease Consultants location near you.