Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease, affecting 17-46% of the developed world. It is characterized by a buildup of fat in the liver in individuals who consume little to no alcohol.
Left unchecked, the fat in liver cells can cause inflammation (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH), scarring (fibrosis) and hardening of the liver (cirrhosis), all of which are risk factors for liver cancer.
Recent research has shown that up to 70% of diabetics have fatty liver disease.
Early-stage fatty liver often has few to no symptoms. As the disease progresses, patients may experience:
NAFLD can be detected during a routine check-up through blood tests and an ultrasound scan of the liver. In rare and specific situations, a liver biopsy may be required.
FibroScan is a new method to diagnose NAFLD. It uses transient elastography, incorporating ultrasound, to quantify the fat content in the liver and measure liver stiffness, which has been proven to correlate with liver fibrosis or scarring. It is a quick, non-invasive and painless test with a higher level of accuracy. There is also no need for any anesthetic, no risk of bleeding, and zero downtime.
NAFLD and NASH can improve if detected early. The aim of early detection is to prevent disease progression and subsequent development of life-threatening complications, such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Lifestyle changes-balanced diet, zero to restricted alcohol consumption, regular exercise, maintaining healthy body weight-can prevent NAFLD from progressing. If you already have NAFLD, these steps will help you manage the condition and delay complications; if you don’t have it, they can help prevent it.