Today is World Liver Day, an event observed to spread awareness about liver-related diseases. Fatty Liver Disease is among the most common conditions that impact many people in India and worldwide.
Speaking with the OnlyMyHealth team, Dr Krishanu Banik, Consultant-Gastroenterology, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, Kolkata, says, "Recent study suggests Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (ALD) is responsible for around 50% of all chronic liver disease cases in India, while Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is estimated to affect up to 30% of the population." In this article, we will not only discuss the two main types of fatty liver disease but will also look into whether they are reversible.
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Types Of Fatty Liver Disease
Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (ALD and NAFLD, respectively) are two of the most common liver diseases, according to Dr Banik.
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD)
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease occurs due to heavy alcohol consumption. Generally, the liver breaks down alcohol. But while doing so, it releases harmful substances that damage cells in the liver, causing inflammation and affecting immunity. The more alcohol you consume, the more harm you'll likely cause your liver.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is not associated with alcohol use; instead, it occurs when a build-up of fat in the liver is due to obesity or an unhealthy lifestyle.
Is It Possible To Reverse NAFLD?
Dr Banik says, "Unlike other kinds of liver disease, NAFLD causes no organ damage. As a result, one can make efforts to reverse the situation before it worsens. Few studies show that decreasing weight is the most effective way to treat, manage, or reverse NAFLD. A healthy objective is to drop 10% of the total body weight, but even a 3%–5% decrease can help the liver."
The Risk Of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) refers to the inflammation of the liver and damage caused due to fat build-up in the liver. Dr Banik says, "If someone is suffering from NASH, no treatment can reverse the fat build-up in the liver. In certain situations, the liver damage stops or is reversed and in some cases the condition progresses. Therefore, controlling diseases that may lead to fatty liver disease is critical if someone has NASH."
Treatments and lifestyle modifications may include:
- Losing weight
- Medication to reduce cholesterol or triglycerides
- Medication to lower blood pressure
- Medication to control diabetes
- Limiting Over-the-Counter (OTC) drugs
- Avoiding alcohol
- Seeing a liver specialist
According to the doctor, there are currently no medicinal therapies for NAFLD. So, maintaining a balanced diet and exercising consistently are the most effective strategies to prevent liver damage and reverse the damage caused already.
Is It Possible To Reverse Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?
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"If someone has fatty liver disease, they may be able to recover from the damage if they refrain from drinking for a specified time (months or years). After this time, it's typically safe to resume drinking, provided the NHS alcohol unit guidelines are carefully followed," says Dr Banik. However, the doctor advises that it is first critical to consult a doctor and follow their guidelines.
Fatty liver disease is one of the country's growing health challenges, and it is crucial to take all necessary measures against it. Lifestyle plays a significant role in maintaining liver health. Not only is it essential to give up unhealthy practices like drinking alcohol and quitting smoking, but it is also necessary to change your diet, your physical activity levels, etc., and most importantly to maintain a healthy weight.