What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

A fatty liver occurs when there is an excessive amount of fat accumulation in the cells of the liver. This is usually caused by consuming too many dietary fats, that is, more than the body is capable of handling.

A patient may be diagnosed with a ‘simple fatty liver’ if the fat build-up is at least 5% of the liver. Once a fat build-up occurs, the liver can become more susceptible to further damage, which can lead to scarring.

Four Stages of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Simple Fatty Liver

A simple fatty liver is where an excessive amount of fat is accumulating in the liver. This occurrence does not usually cause liver problems for most people. However, in some cases, it can progress into a more severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis

Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis or NASH is a condition where the excess build-up of fat leads to liver inflammation. An individual with NASH may be found to have elevated levels of liver enzymes. A similar condition may occur among individuals who are alcoholics, but only non-alcoholics can be diagnosed with NASH.

The exact cause of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis still remains to be discovered. Research shows that NASH is more common among individuals who have insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, or diabetes. It is also more common among people who are classified as obese.


If there is an excessive amount of accumulated scar tissue in the liver, the person may be diagnosed with liver fibrosis. This condition occurs as a result of ongoing inflammation and cell death within the liver. Nodules in the liver form as dying cells are replaced. When cells start to regenerate the liver becomes hard due to the tough fibrous scar tissues.


As a result of cirrhosis, the liver becomes scarred and damaged and can no longer function properly. Cirrhosis will also cause the liver to shrink and harden. In turn, nutrient-rich blood has difficulty reaching the liver, which can have negative impacts on the entire body.

Who is at Risk of NAFLD – Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Here is a list of people who may be more at risk of developing the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:

  • According to research, most cases of NAFLD occurs in patients who are obese or overweight.
  • People who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are also more prone to having NAFLD. However, the same is not true in regards to individuals with type 1 diabetes.
  • People who have high cholesterol and triglyceride levels also face a higher risk of being diagnosed with NAFLD.
  • Men and women who have undergone surgery in an effort to lose weight are also at a high risk of developing NAFLD.
  • Some rare cases of NAFLD have also been found with patients who have used tamoxifen and methotrexate medications for long periods of time.

If you believe you are at risk, speak to your doctor to see what steps you can take to minimize your risk and help your liver overcome any potential problems. The sooner you act, the sooner you can prevent the condition from progressing further.

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