Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) in Illinois
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What is NASH?
There are two categories of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): NAFLD and NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis). The first involves a buildup of fat in the liver. It doesn't really have symptoms or cause inflammation, and is typically caught during testing for other issues. The second, more serious condition, is also characterized by a buildup of fat in the liver. It is, however, accompanied by inflammation. It's also commonly found in individuals who are overweight, have diabetes, and/or have high cholesterol. NAFLD does have the potential to develop into NASH if action is not taken.
The second is the more serious condition known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. It is also characterized by the buildup of fat in the liver that is accompanied by inflammation. NASH is often found in patients who are overweight, have diabetes or high blood sugar, and/or have high cholesterol. Without proper care and management, NASH can impair liver function and lead to other health complications. If left untreated, NASH can lead to liver failure and other complications.
Generally, NASH is diagnosed by a GI specialist or hepatologist who partners with the medical professional who provides your comprehensive care. For more information about non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and other liver diseases, contact your nearest GI Alliance of Illinois Chicago, IL, Peoria, IL, or Normal, IL, location today.
What are the symptoms of NASH?
Most people who develop NASH can live their whole lives without symptoms. However, it can sometimes cause scarring of the liver. This is known as liver cirrhosis. If you develop symptoms of NASH, they might include:
- Pain in the upper right of the abdomen
- Unintended weight loss
If you have been diagnosed with NASH and find it difficult to breathe, your legs are swelling, or you're unusually tired, we urge you to contact our office right away so we can provide help.
Who is at risk for NASH?
The specific cause of NASH isn't known. However, it typically occurs in adults who have risk factors such as:
- High cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- Asian or Hispanic descent (but the condition can affect anyone)
How is NASH treated?
If NASH is left untreated, it could lead to a variety of health concerns, including liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. When diagnosed, however, making changes to your weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol can have a very positive impact on your liver and entire body.
After you're diagnosed with NASH, it's important to see your GI specialist at GI Alliance of Illinois regularly so we can continue to monitor your liver. Treating NASH often includes:
- Healthy eating
- Limited sugar and sodium intake
- Regular exercise
We will also need to address any pre-existing conditions that may increase your risk for NASH.
Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis FAQs
What are the main differences between NAFLD and NASH?
NASH and NAFLD are variations of fatty liver disease. NAFLD is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, yet with this form, no damage has occurred. NASH is a type of NAFLD that is also characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver. However, in this case, liver inflammation, damage, and even scarring have occurred.
How might you recognize the indications of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis if it does not produce symptoms?
Even though there may be no apparent symptoms of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, you could experience lethargy or pain in the upper right abdominal area (where the liver is located). The first sign of liver disease, such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, is often when scarring of the liver occurs (cirrhosis). There are certain symptoms of cirrhosis that you can watch for, including:
- Itching of the skin
- Yellowish appearance to the eyes and skin
- Swelling of the abdomen
If left untreated, what health complications might result with NASH?
Without proper treatment, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis can lead to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. Fibrosis develops when the liver becomes inflamed and scarred. This scar tissue that arises can overcome healthy tissue (liver cirrhosis), which might cause liver function to diminish or stop entirely. In the absence of care, these conditions can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.
Is the damage from NASH reversible?
Those who are in the beginning stages of NASH and have not endured extensive liver damage might be able to successfully reverse the effects of the condition by incorporating lifestyle modifications. These might involve nutrition, exercise, and weight loss. But if chronic or more significant damage has developed, the effects of the condition might be irreversible. Our Illinois gastroenterology team can offer more in-depth details and information surrounding this disease.
Improve the health of your liver.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with NASH, it's important to find the right care to help you maintain your health. At GI Alliance of Illinois, our GI specialists are dedicated to ensuring you receive top-notch care, as we take your health and wellness very seriously. We are proud to offer patient-centered services with the individualized care you need. For more information on NASH and how our Illinois locations can provide the quality care you need, request a consultation at your nearest location today.
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I’ve been treated for a decade by Dr. Gambla and I consider him to be an excellent physician. He has always been on time for our office visits. He always schedules a lengthy office visit to address any questions and concerns. Unlike other doctors that I have seen he concentrates on my issues and concerns and does not allow himself to be distracted by a cell phone or a computer screen. He presents treatment and procedure options and is non judgmental when one decides against any of these options. When I was hospitalized back in 2012, a team of doctors gave me a 5% chance of survival. Dr. Gambla argued in favor of a biopsy and further treatments. After 32 days, including 10 in ICU I was able to walk out on my own. After that he treated me for conditions and a disease associated with my hospital stay that could have proved to be fatal. I would recommend him to anyone who has illnesses that connect to gastroenterology.
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