Physicians have recently noticed an increase in the diagnosis of fatty liver in people that do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Evidence shows that one in five Americans have a fatty liver which is indicative of an epidemic. Medical researchers discovered substantial numbers of adults and adolescents affected with this condition. Although fat in the liver is normal, excessive fat could lead to damage or inflammation.
Non-alcoholic steatohepatisis (NASH) is the medical term to describe this condition. The symptoms are often vague and not alarming to the patient. Many patients afflicted with this condition do not realize they have it until diagnosed by routine blood screening prescribed by a physician. The symptoms including fatigue and malaise are often attributed to other circumstances such as a demanding job. Patients may also feel dull abdominal pain.
Once a doctor diagnoses NASH, patients want to know the reason for this condition. There is no definite answer to that question. Some medications including antiviral drugs and corticosteroids might be the cause. Soft drinks containing high fructose corn syrup are also suspected of causing NASH. Genetics is another possible cause of this condition. The occurrence of NASH is more common in some ethnic groups including Hispanics and Asian Indians.
Once diagnosed, physicians usually provide a list of tips for managing the condition. A large proportion of the patients diagnosed with NASH are overweight, and the doctor will probably recommend diet and exercise for gradual weight loss. In addition, doctors might suggest weight loss surgery which has worked for some patients. Those afflicted might be pleased to learn that limited consumption of wine might be beneficial. Prescribed insulin sensitizers and statins have improved this condition. Researchers also found that Vitamin E has a beneficial effect for NASH patients. Intercept Pharmaceuticals recently announced the results of tests on a drug to treat NASH. The trials show that there have been no safety concerns for patients using the drug. Further trials should confirm the results of the research that was recently stopped because of the positive outcomes so far.
Although many patients have little discomfort or distress from NASH, the disease can cause swelling and scarring of the liver, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer or liver failure. The functions of the liver in the human body are important to converting food and drinks into the nutrition and energy needed for a healthy body, so patients should take steps to minimize the effects of a fatty liver.