Are alcoholic drinks the only cause of liver disease? This serious condition that’s a cause of ascites can be linked to liver cirrhosis. It’s usually most closely linked to alcoholism and heavy drinking can indeed affect vital organs like the liver and kidney. In fact, about 90% of heavy drinkers develop a health condition known as “fatty liver,” which involves the early stages of liver disease. That said, there’s also something called Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). it’s important to know about liver conditions that aren’t linked to drinks like beer, wine, and whiskey. It’s the human body’s largest internal organ and is critical for proper function.
One big question is how NASH compares to other conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It might seem that it’s less serious since it’s not linked to alcohol. However, the liver is the largest organ in the human body and has many functions. If a person experiences any liver-related health conditions then it’s important to know all the critical facts like how serious they are and the likelihood they could lead to serious health conditions. For example, it’s good to know the connection between NASH and other conditions like liver cirrhosis, effective treatments, and whether or not it’s possible to “reverse” the condition.
What in the World Is NASH?
This standard for Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). there are many liver disease-related acronyms so it’s important to sort through them so you’ll know the difference between them. NASH is one kind of Steatohepatitis, which is one type of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
Steatohepatitis is a kind of liver disease that involves fat buildup in the liver that results in tissue inflammation. Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of the condition. However, there are other factors including genetics, diabetes, and obesity, which are some causes of NASH.
In most cases, Steatohepatitis doesn’t cause any physical symptoms. However, the problem is that patients sometimes don’t know they have the condition. In that case, it can worsen and become either liver cirrhosis or even liver cancer.
Doctors usually recommend that NASH patients make lifestyle changes to help prevent permanent damage. They include avoiding alcohol, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Like other conditions, it’s important to take the right steps to prevent more serious conditions.
When the body can’t break down food’s fatty acids it causes fat buildup in the liver. Over the years heavy drinking can affect the body’s metabolism. There are various factors that can cause fatty liver including obesity, malnutrition, diabetes, and blood sugar storage.
When fat is stored in the liver this causes the immune system to try and fight the substance. The vital organ usually only has to process a small amount of fat. This results in lots of irritation/inflammation around liver tissue.
If the inflammation becomes worse the patient might experience various symptoms. They include stomach pain and fatigue. As time passes this can lead to cirrhosis due to irritated liver tissue. in some cases, NASH can result in a serious type of cancer.
In many situations, NASH is detected during routine checkups. If tests show liver fat, the doctor usually orders several tests like X-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans.
How Dangerous Is NASH versus NAFLD?
NASH is an advanced type of fatty liver disease. This disease known as NAFLD results from fat buildup in the liver. It becomes NASH when fat buildup causes inflammation/damage. This can result in scar tissue forming on the vital organ in a condition known as liver cirrhosis.
it’s important for liver disease patients with NASH to watch out for various symptoms of cirrhosis including:
- Yellow skin/eyeballs (Jaundice)
- Loss of appetite
- Itchy skin
- Slurred speech
- Fluid buildup in abdomen
- Swelling (legs)
- Blood vessels with spider web patterns
- Easy bruising/bleeding
A recent UK study found that NASH had about a 50% higher risk of death versus NAFLD. The study involved nearly a million people over a 14-year time period and was reported at the International Liver Congress (2015).
NAFLD includes four stages. Fatty liver happens before Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis NASH ( nash). Then followed by fibrosis then cirrhosis. The study included a computer database of 900,000+ patients. The data were processed to evaluate NAFLD/NASH/cirrhosis patients.
The study showed that mortality rates were about 7.5% higher among NASH patients than NAFLD patients. The mortality rates were nearly 40% higher for cirrhosis versus NAFLD. The researchers noted that NAFLD is one risk factors linked to heart disease. However, they pointed out that NASH is actually a larger risk.
One expert noted that the study’s findings clearly connect NAFLD to a higher risk of heart disease. She highlighted the importance of liver disease patients taking steps like diet/lifestyle changes to help prevent their health conditions from becoming very serious.
The main takeaway is NASH is worse than NAFLD but not as bad as cirrhosis. It’s critical to get diagnosed if you suspect you might have NASH. The next step is to manage/monitor your health condition to help prevent it from developing into more serious forms like liver cirrhosis.
Top Tips to Help Prevent Cirrhosis
Get a vaccine
This will help to reduce your risk of such infections. The time, effort, and money are definitely worthwhile since it can help to prevent you from hepatitis. The price tag for this vaccine will vary although there are several products in the under-$20 range.
Hit the gym
Regular exercise can provide several physical/mental benefits including better liver health. It helps to detoxify the human body, boost the immune system, etc.
Protect yourself from chemicals
This includes various ones like pesticides and cleaning products. If you contact certain chemicals frequently make sure to wear a mask and protective clothing. This will help to minimize risks like developing liver conditions. While such chemicals have made modern life easier, they’ve also produced new health risks.
Maintain a healthy, low-fat diet
A healthy diet includes options like lean meats, whole grains, fresh fruits/veggies, nuts/seeds, and dairy. When picking meats to go with options like chicken/fish over pork/beef although different meats provide different amounts of amino acids.
Don’t engage in high-risk sexual activity
This includes having multiple sex partners or having unprotected sexual activity. There are various reasons you should consider doing these things anyway. However, one of the main ones in terms of liver health is to prevent infections like Hepatitis B/C. You’re at a much greater risk of getting it if you avoid taking certain steps before engaging in sexual activities.
Avoid heavy alcohol drinking
While it’s not the only cause alcohol is one of the most common causes of drinking alcoholic drinks like spirits, wine, and beer. If you’re going to drink make sure to minimize it. Some examples include a can of beer or glass of wine. One caveat is if you have alcohol-related liver disease you should consider completely ditching the cause of ascites.