Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is liver inflammation and damage caused by accumulation of fat in the liver. NASH falls under umbrella of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and is considered to be its most severe form due to the abnormal amount of fat in liver cells.
NASH can cause scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and irreversible damage that leads to liver failure. It affects every age group and is considered to be a “lifestyle” disease as it is closely related to the obesity and diabetes. Although it can affect all the populations usually older people, people with diabetes and people with body fat concentrated in the abdomen are more likely to have NASH.
Most of the patients don’t know that they have NASH as the symptoms often occur after several years. However, possible symptoms of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and later cirrhosis, include:
- Abdominal swelling (ascites)
- Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin's surface
- Enlarged breasts in men
- Enlarged spleen
- Red palms
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Those patients that already suffer one of the conditions below are more likely to develop NASH.
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Poor diet
- Metabolic syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
NASH is considered to be caused by the “western” lifestyle, thus unhealthy diet and sedentary culture. To reduce risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease one is advised to adopt a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
There is still no treatment for NASH and the best way of dealing with the condition is for the patient to implement lifestyle changes. Similar to the prevention, a patient should adopt a healthy diet, exercise and monitor his weight. If the patient suffers from other diseases such as diabetes then a part of the addressing NASH is also treating diabetes, or some other disease/condition that is increasing risk of NASH.
If you are, or a person that you know is, suffering from the symptoms described above contact your doctor or a liver patient organization in your country. European Liver Patients’ Association is an umbrella organization with the national patient organizations as members. List of our members can be found here.