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Common Questions - Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Can you reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may be reversible when it is at an early stage.

Various lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and controlling diabetes (when it is the cause) may reverse the condition.

What’s the difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are both conditions in which fat builds up in the liver. Drinking alcohol causes alcoholic fatty liver disease but it does not cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The exact cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is not known, but certain factors can increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • obesity
  • type II diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • age (it is more common in over 50s)
  • gender (it is more common in men)
  • losing weight very quickly
  • high blood fat levels
  • certain medicines, such as tamoxifen and methotrexate

Does non-alcoholic fatty liver disease cause pain?

Simple non-alcoholic fatty liver disease doesn’t tend to cause symptoms. However, some people can have symptoms, which can include:

  • persistent pain in the upper right part of the tummy
  • tiredness

Are there natural treatments for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Existing research does not prove that any alternative medicines can cure non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, as obesity is a known risk factor for the disease, losing weight healthily by exercising and eating a balanced diet could help to manage the condition.

What medication can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Some medicines are possible risk factors for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, amiodarone, steroids, diltiazem, methotrexate, and tamoxifen.

Always discuss any concerns you may have about your medication with your doctor.

Can you drink alcohol with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Although alcohol doesn’t cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, it can make the condition worse. It’s a good idea to cut down on your alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether.

What are the four stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease develops in four stages. The first is simple fatty liver (steatosis) which is a build-up of fat in the liver cells that is mostly harmless. However in some people, steatosis can progress to more severe forms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the second stage, where inflammation occurs. It is a more serious form of non-alcoholic liver disease.

The third stage, called fibrosis, is when scar tissue forms due to the inflammation but the liver can still function. In the final stage, cirrhosis, the liver shrinks and becomes irreversibly scarred due to years of inflammation. At this point, liver failure may occur.

It is important to seek treatment in the early stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease to stop it from progressing to the final stages.

Can you die from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Most people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease do not develop life-threatening liver disease. Your doctor can help you take control of the disease through various lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising more.

In some people, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can progress to cirrhosis and eventually liver failure, which can be fatal.

It is estimated that around 12% of people with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) will develop cirrhosis over about 8 years.

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Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.

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