Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a mystifying condition because it is not fully understood what drives it. It has been linked to chronic disease markers, such as obesity, but research is ongoing to pin down the underlying causes. Equally as elusive is the lack of symptoms that can draw one’s attention to it.
“It’s important to make lifestyle changes to prevent the condition getting worse,” adds Rowcroft Medical Centre.
How NAFLD is diagnosed
According to the NHS, NAFLD is often diagnosed after a blood test called a liver function test produces an abnormal result and other liver conditions, such as hepatitis, are ruled out.
But, as the healthy body explains, blood tests do not always pick up NAFLD.
“The condition may also be spotted during an ultrasound scan of your tummy,” it says.
- Overweight or obesity
- Insulin resistance, in which your cells don’t take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin
- High blood sugar (hyperglycaemia), indicating prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
- High levels of fats, particularly triglycerides, in the blood.
“These combined health problems appear to promote the deposit of fat in the liver,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
The health body adds: “For some people, this excess fat acts as a toxin to liver cells, causing liver inflammation and NASH, which may lead to a buildup of scar tissue in the liver.”
Can it be treated?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any specific treatments yet for NAFLD.
“However, there’s lots of research going on to try to find a treatment, especially for people with the more advanced stages of liver fibrosis and inflammation,” notes Bupa.