Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a chronic complication whereby fat accumulates in the liver. Much is still to be understood about NAFLD but it has been tied to unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as obesity. The condition is largely symptomless in the beginning. However, if NAFLD is found early, progression can be halted or even reversed through implementation of weight loss strategies.
It is important to note that there were several limitations to the study.
The cross-sectional study used a small sample of 42 participants “inhibiting generalisability” to the population, the researchers acknowledged.
“In addition, no control group was used to compare a symptoms experience in persons without NAFLD against those with NAFLD,” they wrote.
They concluded: “Further research would benefit from the inclusion of a control group of persons without NAFLD, matched by age, gender, weight, and ethnicity, in order to minimise the effects of biases and confounding factors on understanding these relationships.”
How is NAFLD diagnosed?
The NHS explains: “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 blood tests do not always pick up NAFLD.
“The condition may also be spotted during an ultrasound scan of your tummy,” says the NHS.
This is a type of scan where sound waves are used to create an image of the inside of your body.
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 NAFLD be treated?
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.
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