According to the American Liver Foundation, Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when there is an accumulation of excess fat in the liver cells due to causes outside of alcohol use. The disease is so common, it is estimated that 100 million people in the U.S. are living with Nonalcoholic Fatty liver Disease today. Not only does it affect adults of all ages, but NAFLD is also the most prevalent form of liver disease found in children. With many Rio Grande Valley residents carrying one or more risk factors, it’s important to raise awareness about this disease while early treatment is an option. Read on to learn more about who is at risk for developing NAFLD, and what you can do to minimize your chances of developing liver disease in the future.
Who is at risk?
There are a number of risk factors for NAFLD. The disease often develops in overweight or obese individuals or those who are living with diabetes or high cholesterol. Other risk factors may include poor nutrition and/or rapid weight loss, to name a few.
While there are several notable factors for NAFLD, many patients have no risk factors at all. Yet still, the condition affects upwards of a quarter of the U.S. population. Because of this, it is crucial that those affected be properly diagnosed and treated before the symptoms become more serious. The most serious complications associated with NAFLD include cirrhosis of the liver, which is characterized as late-stage scarring of the organ, which can lead to liver cancer or end-stage liver failure.
What are the symptoms of NAFLD?
It is not uncommon for NAFLD to carry no visible symptoms. If symptoms are present, however, they may include fatigue and/or pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen. More advanced liver disease can manifest in symptoms such as abdominal swelling (ascites), jaundice, and red palms, among others.
What can you do to prevent NAFLD?
While many people diagnosed with NAFLD carry no risk factors, there are things you can do to reduce your overall risk of developing NAFLD. These include choosing a healthy, well-rounded diet rich in foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains. Maintaining a healthy weight through a combination of adequate nutrition and exercise can also serve to reduce your risk of NAFLD.
South Texas Research Institute is the first clinic in South Texas dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of NAFLD and other liver conditions. From comprehensive research to counseling and clinical services, it is our goal to ensure a healthy future for RGV residents. Visit our website to learn more about our services or call us at (956) 284-6353 to schedule your appointment.