Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol
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Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) describes a range of conditions caused by too much fat stored in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol. Healthy liver cells should contain little or no fat.
Early-stage liver damage often causes nausea, weight loss, disinterest in food or a combination of the three.
More than five percent fat stored in liver cells is considered too much, and this can result in a fatty liver.
One in three people in the UK is estimated to be affected by NAFLD.
According to Liver Health UK, there are four stages of NAFLD:
- Simple fatty liver or steatosis
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
The fourth stage of NAFLD is cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis is the most serious stage of liver disease and typically occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue.
“At this stage, the liver stops working properly, and symptoms start to appear, such as yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes and a dull ache in the lower right side of the ribs,” says Liver Health UK.
The health site adds: “The scar tissue in liver cirrhosis is difficult to remove, although further progression can be halted if the cause of the liver damage is removed.”
The Mayo Clinic warns: “The liver damage done by cirrhosis generally can’t be undone.
“But if liver cirrhosis is diagnosed early and the cause is treated, further damage can be limited and, rarely, reversed.”
Being overweight increases the risk of developing liver issues that could lead to cirrhosis.
People who are overweight, for example, often develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The NHS elaborates by stating cirrhosis of the liver is known as “end-stage liver disease”.
A diagnosis involves blood tests, scans, and a liver biopsy; if cirrhosis is found, you will be referred to a hepatologist.
There is no cure for extensive liver damage, and treatment will focus on managing symptoms and slowing down its progression.
Lifestyle changes will be needed to help prevent liver failure.
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