Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis – The Silent Liver Disease
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, commonly referred to as NASH, is a disease of the liver that resembles the problems that commonly plague alcoholics, only in people who drink little or no alcohol. Because many people don’t suspect the presence of this condition – due to the fact that they don’t drink and a lack of symptoms – it is sometimes called the “silent” liver disease. However, NASH can be quite serious, even in those without any obvious symptoms. Dr. Tabib is a specialized hepatologist Los Angeles residents choose in treating conditions of the liver, and can help you seek the necessary treatment.
Five percent of American adults have been diagnosed with NASH. An additional 10 to 20 percent have fat in the liver, a less serious condition that is still outside the normal range of human anatomy. Your liver is not designed to hold fat. Usually, chronic alcohol use leads to a buildup of fat in the liver, which leads to inflammation, liver damage, and eventually cirrhosis. With NASH, this process occurs sans alcohol. If you think you may have NASH or fatty liver, contact us to schedule a screening with Dr. Tabib today.
What Causes NASH (Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis)
NASH has become more common in the U.S. in the past decade or so, leading many researchers to connect it with rising obesity rates. It typically affects middle-aged adults who are overweight or obese, lending further credence to this theory. In addition, many patients with NASH are diabetic or pre-diabetic, and many have elevated blood lipid levels.
However, not all people with obesity have NASH and not all those with NASH are overweight or obese. In fact, the condition even affects children in rare cases. In addition to obesity, your risk for NASH may be elevated due to insulin resistance, oxidative stress within the liver cells, and the release of toxic proteins by the fat cells.
Symptoms of NASH
Unfortunately, there are usually no signs or symptoms during the early stages of NASH. This is why it is known as the “silent” liver disease. The disease is progressive, meaning it could take years before you notice any change. If you do have symptoms, this may be a sign that the disease has progressed into cirrhosis, a very serious condition in which you should seek the help of a hepatologist. If you are a Los Angeles resident, Dr. Tabib’s office is available to you. When the scar tissue builds up in the liver, it causes it to cease its proper function. Patients at this stage usually suffer from:
- Weight Loss
- General Weakness
- Fluid Retention
- Abdominal Pain
Not all patients with NASH will develop cirrhosis. In fact, many patients with NASH experience the spontaneous reversal of their liver damage. It can take decades for the disease to progress.
Hepatologist Treatment of NASH
Currently, there is no standard treatment available for patients with NASH. Researchers and hepatologists have been experimenting with various approaches, and a standardized medication may be available one day in the near future. Some patients may benefit from the use of vitamin E, selenium, and betaine. There are also some doctors who believe that breakthrough antidiabetic medications hold promise for patients with NASH, even if they don’t have diabetes. This is because of the ability of these drugs to manage insulin resistance, a condition present in most people with NASH.
For now, it is recommended that most patients with NASH lose weight, follow a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and avoid alcohol or drugs that may damage the liver. The first step is finding out whether or not you have NASH. To schedule a screening with Dr. Tabib’shepatology clinic in Los Angeles, contact us today at (310) 652 – 4472 or fill out an email submission form.