Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) in Hattiesburg, MS

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There are a couple of different categories of disease under the diagnosis of NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). The first consists of a buildup of fat in the liver that causes no outward symptoms and also doesn't produce any inflammation. This condition is usually found when other tests are performed. If this condition is having an impact on your health, the GI specialists at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC can review with you the steps you can take to protect your liver from additional damage. This type of NAFLD is also usually considered benign, but it does have the potential to progress to NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), described below.

NASH is a more serious type of liver disease. Like NAFLD, it is also characterized by a buildup of fat in the liver in addition to inflammation. NASH is often found in patients who are overweight, have diabetes and/or high blood sugar, and have high cholesterol. Unless properly treated, NASH can harm liver function and cause additional health complications.

NASH is often diagnosed by the GI specialists at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC or hepatologists who partner with another medical specialist to give you comprehensive care. To learn more about NASH treatments in Hattiesburg, MS, reach out to our providers today.

Many individuals who have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis go through their lives without ever experiencing symptoms. NASH may, every now and again, lead to scarring of the liver, which is called cirrhosis. If symptoms of NASH occur, they may include:

  • Aching in the upper right portion of your abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lasting fatigue

If you have been diagnosed with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and begin to have trouble breathing, your legs are starting to swell, or you are unusually tired, contact your GI specialist immediately. Our experts at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC are ready to provide care.

The precise cause of NASH remains unknown. Although it could affect young people, NASH most often impacts older individuals. Some other risk factors for NASH could include:

  • Obesity
  • Post-menopause
  • Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Asian or Hispanic descent (although NASH can impact anyone)
  • High blood pressure

Without treatment, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis might lead to additional health issues, such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, and ultimately, liver failure. If you have been diagnosed with NASH, taking control of your weight, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol can help not just your liver, but the health of your entire body.

Once diagnosed with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, you will need to regularly see your Hattiesburg, MS GI doctor/hepatologist to keep an eye on your liver. Treating NASH may include a combination of eating healthy, limiting your sugar and sodium intake, and getting regular exercise. Part of the treatment process includes addressing any additional conditions that are known to increase the risk or severity of NASH.

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What is the difference between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and NASH?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are both variations of fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by fat buildup in the liver, but no damage has occurred. NASH is a form of NAFLD that also involves fat accumulation in the liver. However, in this case, liver inflammation, damage, and even scarring have developed.

How might you detect the indications of NASH if it does not cause symptoms?

Though there may be no apparent symptoms of NASH, you could experience extreme exhaustion or pain in the upper right abdominal area (where the liver is located). The initial sign of liver disease, like NASH, is generally when scarring of the liver occurs (cirrhosis). Cirrhosis may cause certain symptoms you can observe, including:

  • Swelling in the abdominal area
  • Itching
  • Yellowish appearance to the eyes and skin
In the absence of care, what health complications might develop with NASH?

In the absence of care, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis might result in fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. Liver fibrosis results when inflammation and scarring impact the liver. The scar tissue that forms can overcome healthy areas (cirrhosis), which may cause liver function to diminish or stop altogether. Without treatment, these conditions may end up causing liver cancer and, ultimately, liver failure.

Is the damage caused by NASH reversible?

Those who are experiencing the early stages of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and do not have severe liver damage might be able to reverse its effects by making lifestyle changes. These might include healthy eating, exercising regularly, and weight loss. However, if long-term or more significant damage has resulted, the effects of NASH might be irreversible. Our Hattiesburg, MS gastroenterology doctors can provide further details surrounding this disease.

If NASH is impacting your liver or your daily life, the most important step you can take to protect your health is to find a reliable physician to partner with. At Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC, our GI specialists are passionate about placing your wellness first, and we take a patient-centric approach to treating NASH. If you think you may have the condition or are searching for a doctor who offers NASH treatment in Hattiesburg, MS, call one of our offices to request a consultation with a gastroenterology health provider.

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