Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) in Connecticut

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What is NASH?

There are two different categories of disease of NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). The first disease consists of an excess of fat in the liver that causes no outward symptoms and doesn't have any accompanying inflammation. Typically, this type is diagnosed when additional tests are being performed. If this condition is having an impact on your well-being, your GI specialist can discuss the process you may want to take to safeguard your liver from more damage. This type of NAFLD is also usually considered benign. However, it does have the probability of becoming non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The other type is more severe than NAFLD and is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Like NAFLD, it is also characterized by the buildup of fat in a patient's liver in addition to inflammation. NASH is generally seen in people who are overweight, diabetic, and/or have high blood sugar or high cholesterol. Unless treated, NASH can impair liver function and create additional health complications.

NASH can be diagnosed by a Connecticut GI provider or by a hepatologist. If you are seeking comprehensive care for NASH or want to learn more about this GI disease, contact a location near you today.

Are there symptoms of NASH?

Most patients who have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis manage day-to-day without any symptoms. NASH may sometimes result in scarring of the liver, which is called cirrhosis. If NASH symptoms do occur, they might include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Unintentional loss of weight
  • Aching in the upper right portion of the abdomen

In the event you have been diagnosed with NASH and find it's becoming hard to breathe, swelling in your legs, or are unusually tired, contact your GI provider immediately. The specialists at Connecticut GI can help administer care.

Am I at risk for NASH?

The exact cause of NASH is unknown. Even though it can affect younger individuals, this condition most often impacts older ones. Additional risk factors for NASH include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Being overweight
  • Post-menopausal phase of life
  • NAFLD
  • Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes
  • Hispanic or Asian descent (although the condition can impact anyone)
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood sugar

How is NASH treated?

If left untreated, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis could cause more health issues, like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and, ultimately, liver failure. If it is diagnosed, adjusting your weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels can help not only your liver but your entire body.

After you've been diagnosed with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, you will want to regularly see your Connecticut GI provider/hepatologist in order to monitor your liver. Treating NASH may include a combination of a healthy diet, limiting your sugar and sodium intake, and developing an exercise routine. We will also need to address any pre-existing conditions that are known to increase the risk or severity of NASH.

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What are the primary differences between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and NASH?

NASH and NAFLD are both variations of fatty liver disease. NAFLD is fat buildup within the liver. However, with this variation, damage has not occurred. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a type of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that also involves the accumulation of fat in the liver, but where inflammation, damage, and even scarring occur.

How can you detect the signs of NASH if it does not produce symptoms?

While there are typically no symptoms of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, you may experience extreme lethargy or pain in the upper right side of your abdomen where your liver is. The first sign of liver disease, like NASH, is generally when cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, occurs. Cirrhosis may cause certain symptoms that you can watch for, including:

  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Swelling of the abdomen
Without treatment, what health complications can occur with NASH?

If left untreated, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis could lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis. Fibrosis is a condition that develops when inflammation and scarring impact the liver. This scar tissue can replace healthy tissue, called liver cirrhosis, which can cause liver function to slow or cease completely. Without treatment, these conditions could lead to liver cancer and liver failure.

Is it possible to reverse the effects of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis?

Individuals who are in the early stages of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and have not experienced severe liver damage might be able to reverse the effects by implementing lifestyle changes. These may include nutrition, exercising regularly, and losing weight (if necessary). However, if chronic or more extensive damage has resulted, the effects of NASH may be irreversible. Our Connecticut digestive health specialists can provide further details about this disease.

Improve the health of your liver

Receiving the attention you need to preserve your liver health and minimize the effects of NASH could help improve your quality of life. At Connecticut GI, our physicians are dedicated to placing your health and wellness first, and our team takes a patient-centered approach to providing individualized service. If you think you may have this condition or are searching for a provider who offers NASH treatment in Connecticut, contact our facility to request a consultation with a GI specialist.

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