The Liver clinic

What are the symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?

Table of Contents

Diagram of NAFLD

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the term for a range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. It’s usually seen in people who are overweight or obese.

A healthy liver should contain little or no fat. And while early-stage NAFLD doesn’t usually cause any harm, it can lead to serious liver damage if it gets worse.

NAFLD develops slowly, over many years. It generally affects adults over the age of 50, although it can occur sooner. You might not notice any symptoms of NAFLD at all or you may experience some mild, vague effects of fatty liver disease.

The good news is that, if detected and managed at an early stage, it’s possible to reduce the amount of fat in your liver and stop NAFLD getting worse.

Here we answer common questions about some of the possible symptoms of NAFLD…

Does NAFLD cause cramps?

Occasionally, people with more advanced stages of NAFLD may experience a dull or aching pain in the top right of the abdomen. This is usually over the lower right side of the ribs.

Does NAFLD cause high blood pressure?

Having high levels of fat in your liver is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure      and other serious health problems, such as diabetes and kidney disease.

Can NAFLD cause diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be a symptom of a more serious complication of NAFLD, called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This occurs when the liver has become inflamed and begins to lose function. Symptoms of NASH include diarrhea, trouble concentrating and difficulty walking.

Can NAFLD cause itching?

Minor, occasional itching shouldn’t be a cause for concern. But itching is one symptom of chronic liver disease, although not everyone with liver disease develops it.

Itching indicating liver damage may be a localised itch, such as on the lower arm, or it might be      all over the body .

[H2] Can NAFLD cause a sore throat?

A sore throat isn’t a common symptom of NAFLD, although it can be a symptom of hepatitis B, a contagious liver disease caused by a virus.

Can NAFLD cause tiredness?

Tiredness can be a symptom of many different conditions. Diabetes and obesity, which commonly begin before NAFLD develops, are also associated with tiredness, making it difficult to notice increasing fatigue caused by NAFLD.

If you are experiencing tiredness along with some of the other signs of NAFLD, it could be as a result of poor liver health.

Does NAFLD cause weakness?

Weakness could be a sign of liver damage. If you have a liver that’s damaged by cirrhosis, it’s more difficult for your body to process nutrients, which can lead to weakness and weight loss.

Does NAFLD increase GGT levels?

Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) is a common enzyme found in many of your body’s tissues and organs, including your liver.

High levels of GGT in the blood may be a sign of NAFLD or damage to the bile ducts, which are the tubes that carry bile in and out of the liver and are important for digestion.

Can you protect yourself against NAFLD?

If you have NAFLD, there are lots of things you can do to support your liver to repair itself.

NAFLD is more likely to develop if you have an unhealthy diet, are overweight or obese, have high blood lipids, live with Type 2 diabetes, have an underactive thyroid or insulin resistance or live with polycystic ovary syndrome.

So, one of the best ways to halt or reverse the effects of NAFLD is to lose weight.


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