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There are many different types of liver disease. You can help prevent some of them by maintaining a healthy weight and staying within the recommended alcohol limits, if you drink. A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease, such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. Others, like a person's age or family history, can't be changed.
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. Early-stage NAFLD does not usually cause any harm, but it can lead to serious liver damage, including cirrhosis, if it gets worse. Having high levels of fat in your liver is also associated with an increased risk of serious health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease. If you already have diabetes, NAFLD increases your chance of developing heart problems.
NAFLD develops in 4 main stages
The main stages of NAFLD are:
1. Simple fatty liver (steatosis): A largely harmless build-up of fat in the liver cells that may only be diagnosed during tests carried out for another reason
2. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): A more serious form of NAFLD, where the liver has become inflamed; this is estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population
3. Fibrosis: Where persistent inflammation causes scar tissue around the liver and nearby blood vessels, but the liver is still able to function normally
4. Cirrhosis: The most severe stage, occurring after years of inflammation, where the liver shrinks and becomes scarred and lumpy. This damage is permanent and can lead to liver failure (where your liver stops working properly) and liver cancer
It can take years for fibrosis or cirrhosis to develop. It's important to make lifestyle changes to prevent the condition getting worse.
Causes: You're at an increased risk of NAFLD if you:
1. Are Obese or overweight – particularly if you have a lot of fat around your waist (an "apple-like" body shape)
2. Have type 2 diabetes
3. Have high BP
4. Have high cholesterol have metabolic syndrome (a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity)
5. Are over the age of 50
But NAFLD has been diagnosed in people without any of these risk factors, including young children.
Although it's very similar to alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD), NAFLD is not caused by drinking too much alcohol.
1. Dull or aching pain in the top right of the tummy (over the lower right side of the ribs)
2. Extreme tiredness
3. Unexplained weight loss
If cirrhosis (the most advanced stage) develops, you can get more severe symptoms, such as yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice), itchy skin, and swelling in the legs, ankles, feet or tummy (oedema).
Gilbert’s syndrome is a mild disorder in which bilirubin in the blood builds up to levels that are higher than normal. Bilirubin is a yellow waste product that results from the breakdown of old red blood cells. This buildup of bilirubin (known as hyperbilirubinemia) happens because the liver does not process the substance properly.
1. Illness, such as a cold or the flu
2. Fasting or eating a very low-calorie diet
6. Strenuous exercise
7. Lack of sleep
Causes: An abnormal gene you inherit from your parents causes Gilbert's syndrome. The gene normally controls an enzyme that helps break down bilirubin in your liver. When you have an ineffective gene, your blood contains excess amounts of bilirubin because your body doesn't produce enough of the enzyme.