Understanding NAFLD and NASH: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Children with liver diseases are becoming more common, especially in the Hispanic community. 

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which happens when fat accumulates in the liver, is the main cause of liver disease in children. 
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which results in liver inflammation and scarring, can develop from NAFLD.

In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of NAFLD and NASH.

The causes of an increase in liver disease in kids are discussed, including sedentary lifestyles, poor diets, and hereditary predispositions. Due to the higher prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes in this group, Hispanic children are particularly at risk.

Children's liver disease can be prevented and treated with lifestyle modifications like greater exercise and a healthier diet, as well as medicine in more serious cases. In order to stop future liver damage and the development of more severe liver disorders, this article emphasizes the significance of early detection and treatment.

This article is a call to action for parents, medical professionals, and governments to address the rising rates of liver disease in kids, particularly in the Hispanic community.

Understanding Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is NAFLD?
  3. What is NASH?
  4. Causes of NAFLD and NASH
  5. Risk Factors for NAFLD and NASH
  6. Symptoms of NAFLD and NASH
  7. Diagnosis of NAFLD and NASH
  8. Complications of NAFLD and NASH
  9. Treatment Options for NAFLD and NASH
  10. Lifestyle Changes to Manage NAFLD and NASH
  11. Medications for NAFLD and NASH
  12. Surgical Treatments for NAFLD and NASH
  13. Home remedies for NAFLD and NASH
  14. Prevention of NAFLD and NASH
  15. Conclusion
  16. FAQs
  17. Facts related to NAFLD and NASH

1. Introduction

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are two disorders that are on the rise, particularly in children. While NASH is a more dangerous illness that involves liver inflammation and scarring, NAFLD is an accumulation of fat in the liver. 

The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which affects millions of individuals worldwide, is an increasing health concern. Fat builds up in the liver in a condition known as NAFLD, which can cause inflammation, scarring, and ultimately liver damage. NAFLD, in contrast to alcohol-related liver disease, affects those who do not drink too much alcohol.

2. What is NAFLD?

In NAFLD, the liver collects too much fat, usually in the form of triglycerides. The illness is often detected by imaging testing or blood work even though it is frequently asymptomatic. Simple fatty liver (SFL) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are the two subtypes of NAFLD.

3. What is NASH?

A more serious form of NAFLD is NASH. NASH also entails inflammation and liver cell destruction in addition to the fat buildup in the liver. NASH can result in liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver fibrosis.

4. Causes of NAFLD and NASH

An improper lifestyle, including unhealthful food and insufficient exercise, is the main contributor to NAFLD and NASH. NAFLD and NASH are more likely to develop in people who are overweight or obese, have type 2 diabetes, or are insulin resistant. The development of these disorders may also be influenced by hereditary/genetic factors.

Although the precise origin of NAFLD is not entirely understood, it is thought to be connected to metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, a cluster of disorders that raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. 

5. Risk Factors for NAFLD and NASH

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing NAFLD and NASH. 

These include:

  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High levels of fats in the blood
  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor diet
  • Certain medications
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hypothyroidism
  • PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
  • Genetics

6. Symptoms of NAFLD and NASH

There may be no symptoms at all in the early stages of NAFLD and NASH. However, when the condition worsens, symptoms including fatigue, stomach pain, abdominal swelling, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) may appear. NAFLD and NASH can cause liver failure in extreme situations.

NAFLD may not exhibit any signs in its early stages. However, when the condition worsens, the following symptoms could appear:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort (upper right abdomen)
  • Enlarged liver
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Jaundice

7. Diagnosis Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

NAFLD is typically diagnosed through -

  • Symptoms, 
  • Physical exams, 
  • Blood tests (liver function or liver enzymes), 
  • Imaging tests (ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI), or 
  • Liver biopsy (for diagnosis and to determine the severity of the disease). 

8. Complications of NAFLD and NASH

Liver cirrhosis, cancer, liver failure, and fibrosis are all complications of NAFLD and NASH. Cardiovascular disease is more likely to develop in those with NAFLD and NASH.

9. Treatment Options for NAFLD and NASH

There is no specific treatment for NAFLD and NASH. Making lifestyle adjustments that support liver health is the initial step in the treatment of NAFLD and NASH. This entails maintaining a regular exercise routine and eating a nutritious diet low in sugar, fat, and processed foods. The quantity of fat in the liver can also be decreased, if necessary, by losing weight. Medication may be recommended in more serious situations to lessen liver scarring and inflammation.

Lifestyle changes to manage NAFLD and NASH -

  • Losing weight - 5–10% body weight loss can assist in lowering liver fat and inflammation.
  • Following a healthy diet - A diet heavy in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated and trans fats can assist to optimize liver function.
  • Exercising regularly - Regular exercise helps lessen liver fat and increase insulin sensitivity.
  • Managing diabetes and high blood pressure

Medications for NAFLD and NASH -

  • Vitamin E: For those with NASH, taking vitamin E supplements may help to lessen liver inflammation.
  • Pioglitazone: In NASH patients, this drug can increase insulin sensitivity and reduce liver fat.

Surgical Treatments (Operative Care) for NAFLD and NASH -

  • Bariatric surgery: Surgery for severe obesity (Bariatric) can help patients shed pounds and enhance liver health.

Home Remedies for NAFLD -

NAFLD cannot be cured, however, there are several natural treatments that can help control the condition. These consist of:

  • Drinking green tea
  • Consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice
  • Taking milk thistle supplements
  • Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds
  • Consuming foods rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, cranberries, and pomegranates
  • Turmeric

Turmeric as a home remedy for NAFLD -

Turmeric is among the finest natural remedies for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). 

The treatment entails boiling water and turmeric powder for a short period of time before drinking the liquid twice daily for a few weeks. 

According to certain research, curcumin, the primary active component of turmeric, may help NAFLD patients' liver health and inflammation levels. 

It's crucial to remember that additional research is required in order to fully comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of using turmeric as a treatment for NAFLD. 

Additionally, before attempting any new therapy, including home remedies, patients with liver illness should always speak with their healthcare physician.

10. Prevention of NAFLD and NASH

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the greatest strategy to avoid NAFLD and NASH. This entails maintaining a regular exercise routine in addition to eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. To safeguard liver health, one should limit alcohol intake and keep away from toxins that can harm the liver, such as specific drugs and chemicals.

11. Conclusion

In conclusion, NAFLD and NASH are severe disorders that, if neglected, can result in liver failure. However, these problems can be avoided or managed with early detection, dietary adjustments, and medical care as needed. You can protect the health of your liver and lower your chance of developing NAFLD and NASH by establishing a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.

People can take measures to prevent and control NAFLD by understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment choices. It is crucial to consult your healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and course of treatment if you think you may have NAFLD.


World Liver day


12. FAQs

Q. Is NAFLD a serious condition?

NAFLD can be a serious condition, especially if it progresses to NASH, liver fibrosis, or cirrhosis.

Q. Can NAFLD be cured?

There is no cure for NAFLD, but lifestyle changes and medications can help manage the condition.

Q. How is NAFLD diagnosed?

NAFLD is typically diagnosed through imaging tests or blood work. A liver biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Q. Can NAFLD be prevented?

NAFLD can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and following a healthy diet.

Q. What are the risk factors for NAFLD and NASH?

Risk factors for NAFLD and NASH include obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome.

13. Facts related to NAFLD and NASH

Here are some facts, data, and statistics related to NAFLD and NASH:

  1. NAFLD affects an estimated 25% of the global population (1).
  2. NAFLD is the most common cause of liver disease in the United States (2).
  3. NASH is the most severe form of NAFLD and affects an estimated 3-5% of the global population (3).
  4. NAFLD is more common in people who are overweight or obese, and in those who have type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol (4).
  5. The prevalence of NAFLD is increasing worldwide, largely due to the rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes (5).
  6. NAFLD can progress to NASH in up to 25% of cases, and NASH can progress to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer (6).
  7. People with NASH are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (7).
  8. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet can help improve liver function and manage NAFLD and NASH (8).
  9. There is no specific treatment for NAFLD and NASH, but medications such as vitamin E and pioglitazone can help manage the condition (9).


  1. Younossi ZM, Koenig AB, Abdelatif D, Fazel Y, Henry L, Wymer M. Global epidemiology of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease-Meta-analytic assessment of prevalence, incidence, and outcomes. Hepatology. 2016 Jul;64(1):73-84.
  2. Younossi ZM, Stepanova M, Afendy M, Fang Y, Younossi Y, Mir H, Srishord M. Changes in the prevalence of the most common causes of chronic liver diseases in the United States from 1988 to 2008. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2011 May 1;9(5):524-30.
  3. Younossi ZM, Golabi P, de Avila L, Paik JM, Srishord M, Fukui N, Qiu Y, Burns L, Nader F. The global epidemiology of NAFLD and NASH in patients with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Hepatology. 2019 Nov 1;71(5):793-801.
  4. Rinella ME. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a systematic review. Jama. 2015 Mar 10;313(22):2263-73.
  5. Anstee QM, Targher G, Day CP. Progression of NAFLD to diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, or cirrhosis. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2013 Aug;10(6):330-44.
  6. Wong VW, Adams LA, de Lédinghen V, Wong GL, Sookoian S. Noninvasive biomarkers in NAFLD and NASH—current progress and future promise. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2018 Sep;15(8):461-78.
  7. Targher G, Byrne CD, Lonardo A, Zoppini G, Barbui C. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and risk of incident cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis. Journal of Hepatology. 2016 May 1;65(5):589-600.
  8. EASL-EASD-EASO Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal of Hepatology. 2016 Jun 1;64(6):1388-402.
  9. Sanyal AJ, Chalasani N, Kowdley KV, McCullough A, Diehl AM, Bass NM, Neuschwander-Tetri BA, Lavine JE, Tonascia J, Unalp A, Van Natta M. Pioglitazone, vitamin E, or placebo for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010 May 6;362(18):1675-85.

Tags / Keywords: 

NAFLD, NASH, liver disease, obesity, diabetes, healthy lifestyle, prevention, treatment.

एक टिप्पणी भेजें

0 टिप्पणियाँ