Michael Mosley discusses the improved quality of liquid diets
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The British Liver Trust says you may not show any symptoms for many years if you have NAFLD. Nonetheless, sometimes people can experience encephalopathy. This can be marked by periods of confusion, forgetting things, mood changes or poor judgement. The National Institute of Health explains encephalopathy is a term for any diffuse disease of the brain that alters brain function or structure.
The Trust also lists a number of other signs. These include:
- Fatigue or a general feeling of lethargy or having no energy
- Discomfort on the upper right side of your tummy (where your liver is).It says if you develop encephalopathy or any of the following symptoms tell a doctor straight away:Yellowness of the eyes and skin (jaundice) – this may be harder to notice if you have black or brown skin
- Bruising easily
- Dark urine
- Swelling of the tummy area (ascites)
- Vomiting blood
- Dark black tarry poo
- Itching skin.
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If detected and managed at an early stage, NAFLD can be stopped from getting worse and the amount of fat in your liver can be reduced.
Most people will only ever develop the first stage, very often without realising it.
In a small number of cases, it can progress and lead to liver damage if not detected and managed.
A healthy liver should contain little or no fat, though the NHS estimates up to one in every three people in the UK has early stages of NAFLD, where there are small amounts of fat in their liver.
The British Liver Trust says: “NAFLD might only be diagnosed when it has become serious. Or you might only find out you have it during tests for another health problem.
“If your doctor thinks you have any form of liver disease they will try to find out what is causing it and how damaged your liver is.
“Doctors use a range of tests to get different information and build up an overall picture of what is happening.”
It adds: “It is very important that the amount of scarring in your liver is tested as part of your NAFLD diagnosis. This is the main sign of how advanced your liver disease is.”
The NHS says if cirrhosis – the most advanced stage – develops, you can get more severe symptoms.
These signs include yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, itchy skin, and swelling in the legs, ankles, feet or tummy.
The health body says: “See a GP urgently or call 111 if you have any of these symptoms and have a liver condition.”
It adds: “There’s currently no specific medication for NAFLD, but making healthy lifestyle choices can help.”
The NHS explains there is not currently any medicine that can treat NAFLD, but various medicines can be useful in managing the problems associated with the condition.
For example, your doctor may recommend medicine to treat high blood pressure, treat high cholesterol, treat type 2 diabetes and treat obesity.
It says try to have a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates, but low in fat, sugar and salt.The health body also advises that people aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking or cycling, a week.
It says all types of exercise can help improve NAFLD, even if you do not lose weight.
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