Understanding Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)

Understanding Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis : Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) refers to a condition caused by liver inflammation due to fat accumulation resulting in cellular injury. Steatohepatitis is one of the conditions which relate to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. NASH symptoms are often nonspecific; therefore, diagnosis in most patients is minimal. Most patients become aware of the condition in its late stages. The condition can be life-threatening due to the risk of cirrhosis. This article examines the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Symptoms

Nash does not often emit symptoms during the early stages, but as the disease progresses, some patients experience liver inflammation and may show the following symptoms:

• General weakness
• Fatigue
• Aching in the upper right side of the belly
• Unexplained weight loss

NASH can progress for several years before its severity shows the symptoms.

Understanding Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis

What Causes Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)?

Research on steatohepatitis causes is still ongoing; obesity and insulin resistance are projected as the major causes of infiltration of high amounts of fat into liver cells. When inflammation occurs, liver cells get damaged, causing scarring (fibrosis).

Experts opine that people show symptoms at different levels due to various factors such as family history, genetics, and environmental and local conditions, all playing a role. People who suffer from the following conditions have a bigger risk of developing NASH and liver damage:

• Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance
• Obesity
• Metabolic syndrome
• High triglycerides and cholesterol

Older people ages 40, 50, and above are more prone to the problems listed and are therefore at greater risk of getting affected by NASH, although the condition can also affect those who do not have any of the mentioned risks.

How Is Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) Diagnosed?

No single test can establish the existence of NASH. Your doctor may inquire about any health problems you’ve had.

Similarly, there’s no single test that can diagnose NASH. Diagnosis is given following your doctor asking you about other health problems you’ve had, your medical history, and any medications you are on. A physical examination may follow to check signs of an enlarged liver or if you have jaundice.

Blood tests include blood count and liver function tests to check out fat build-up in your liver.

Imaging tests performed include:

• Computed tomography scan (CT)
• Blood tests
• Magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI)
• Abdominal ultrasound

Doctors also prefer to perform a liver biopsy to check any liver condition. Tissue samples of your liver get checked to rule out or confirm NASH. A liver biopsy reveals the extent of a NASH condition.

No single test can establish the existence of NASH. Your doctor may inquire about any health problems you’ve had.

Similarly, there’s no single test that can diagnose NASH. Diagnosis is given following your doctor asking you about other health problems you’ve had, your medical history, and any medications you are on. A physical examination may follow to check signs of an enlarged liver or if you have jaundice.

Blood tests include a blood count and liver function tests to check out fat build-up in your liver.

Imaging tests performed include:

• Computed tomography scan (CT)
• Blood tests
• Magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI)
• Abdominal ultrasound

Doctors also prefer to perform a liver biopsy to check any liver condition. Tissue samples of your liver get checked to rule out or confirm NASH. A liver biopsy reveals the extent of a NASH condition.

Treatment of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis

No precise medication has been specified for the treatment of NASH. Managing the risk conditions and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are major precautions to suppress the existence of NASH. You can:

• Regulate diabetes by controlling your sugar levels
• Exercise regularly
• Reduce your cholesterol level
• Cut down on alcohol intake
• Maintain healthy weight and body mass index (BMI) levels
• Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B, pneumococcal, and flu diseases

NASH can ignite cirrhosis or liver failure. Medications for existing conditions can lower the risk levels. Doctors may recommend medication to control liver damage if NASH is present. 

Contact us to learn of current or upcoming studies on nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.