Not known to many but non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disorder in developed countries. Its constant rise is closely related to the changing lifestyle of the today’s generation. It is evident that high-fat food without any nutritional value and lack of exercise plays a major role in the increasing number of NAFLD cases across the world. While NAFLD does not cause critical complication in most of the cases, neglecting it can be serious at times. In this article, you will get brief information about the disease and will know how worse NAFLD can get worse if not treated.
NAFLD Can Get Worse If Not Treated
NAFLD and Its Symptoms
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD is a type of fatty liver disease that occurs due to the accumulation of fat in the liver. It usually occurs in people who are overweight and obese.
NAFLD may not show any sign or symptoms. However, when the symptoms do appear, they should not be ignored. A few of them are as follows:
• Pain in right upper part of the abdomen
• An enlarged liver or spleen
• Discolouration of skin and eyes or Jaundice
Now, many people tend to ignore such symptoms and do not take the disease seriously. This may not cause a big issue in the initial stages. However, if it continues for a prolonged period without being treated well, NAFLD can give rise to various serious health complications in advanced stages. To understand the consequences, it is important to know about the various stages of NAFLD.
There are four stages of NAFLD. The disease can progress and eventually lead to various health complications if not treated well in time. Before discussing those complications, let us first give you a brief about the four main stages of NAFLD.
- Simple Fatty Liver or Steatosis – This is the first stage and indicates the build-up of fat in the liver cells which is largely harmless. There are often no symptoms, and its diagnosis may appear during tests carried out for another health condition.
Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis or NASH – In this stage, there is not just the accumulation of fat but also inflammation in the liver which makes it a more serious form of NAFLD.
Fibrosis – An upgraded stage of NAFLD, it is when there is persistent inflammation in the liver that forms scar tissue around the liver and nearby blood vessels. Though the scar tissue may replace the healthy tissue, the liver can still function normally in fibrosis.
Cirrhosis – The last and the most severe stage, it occurs after several years of inflammation. In this stage, the liver shrinks and becomes scarred permanently. This can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.
Some of the symptoms that appear in this stage are:
• Bleeding from gastrointestinal tract
• Damaged liver functions
• Mental confusion
• Fluid retention
As stated above, cirrhosis is a major serious complication following an inappropriate treatment of NAFLD. However, situations like liver failure and liver cancer that accompany cirrhosis are life-threatening. Moreover, all these stages of NAFLD also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack.
The later and the serious stages can be prevented if the patient follows a healthy lifestyle and gets appropriate treatment in time. They can visit any of the liver transplant hospitals in India and consult a liver specialist to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. In case a person reaches the end stage, i.e., cirrhosis, they can also get a liver transplant in India at various reputed hospitals like Max Healthcare.
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