NAFLD – Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Your physician has diagnosed you with NAFLD, Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, what comes next? The first step in any new diagnosis is to make sure that you understand the diagnosis. Be sure to ask questions of your physician. What is NAFLD? How can I treat this? How will it affect my life?
It is important to understand that there is a separate condition that affects the liver found in people who drink too much alcohol. Alcohol consumption does not cause NAFLD. That is why doctors are careful to differentiate between liver diseases caused by excessive drinking and those that are found in patients who are either do not drink at all or just occasionally.
What is Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?
There are two types of NAFLD. The first is a benign condition due to fat build up in the liver with no symptoms or accompanying inflammation. The lack of symptoms means that doctors can often diagnose this condition during tests for other issues. For example, during an ultrasound of the gallbladder doctors may see the fat build up in the liver. After receiving a diagnosis of this type of NAFLD, your Concorde Gastroenterology doctor will discuss with you the steps you can take to minimize further damage. Additionally, doctors could use Fibroscan to see the extent of liver scarring.
The second category is a more serious condition known as NASH. The build-up of fat in the liver also characterizes non-alcoholic steatohepatitis but, it is also accompanied by inflammation. NASH often occurs in patients who are overweight, have diabetes or high blood sugar and/or have high cholesterol. You will have to work with your doctor to address these conditions directly as part of your treatment. Taking control of your weight, blood sugar and cholesterol can have positive effects not only on your liver but also throughout your body. Your Concorde Gastroenterology physician can offer you real options for managing your weight with our Integrated Wellness & Weight Management Program.
If you receive a diagnosis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis you should see your gastroenterologist or hepatologist regularly to monitor your liver. It is possible to live your life without developing any additional symptoms, but NASH can, at times, cause scarring of the liver called cirrhosis. If you have been diagnosed with NASH and begin to have trouble breathing, swelling in your legs or are unusually tired contact your doctor immediately.
Clinical Trials for NASH
In an effort to help our patients living with NAFLD we are currently conducting a GILEAD NASH Clinical Trial. If you are interested in seeing if you are eligible to participate in one of our trials use this form to contact our Clinical Research Coordinator. Please remember that not everyone is eligible for every trial. We will do our best to match the best-qualified patient with each trial.