Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) in Utah

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (aka NAFLD) manifests in two primary forms. The first involves a buildup of fat in the liver that is not known to cause any outward symptoms or coexisting inflammation. Often, this disease is found when other tests are performed. If this condition is affecting your health, your GI specialist will go over the process you may want to take to safeguard your liver from additional damage. This type of NAFLD is also considered benign, but it does have the possibility to become non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, commonly known as NASH.

The second is more serious and is known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. It is also described by the buildup of fat in a patient's liver that is accompanied by inflammation. NASH is often found in patients who are larger, are diabetic and/or have high blood sugar, and/or have high cholesterol. Unless treated, NASH can impede liver function and create additional health complications.

NASH is frequently diagnosed by the GI specialists at Utah Gastroenterology or hepatologists who partner with another medical specialist to offer comprehensive care. To learn more about the NASH treatment options in Utah, get in touch with our facility today.

It's possible for an individual to have NASH without ever experiencing symptoms of the condition. NASH might, sometimes, result in scarring of the liver, which is known as cirrhosis. If symptoms of NASH do occur, they could involve:

  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Everlasting fatigue
  • Aching in the upper right portion of your abdomen

If you have been diagnosed with NASH and develop difficulty breathing, swollen legs, or you are unusually tired, contact your GI specialist as soon as possible. The experts at Utah Gastroenterology can help provide care.

It is not known at this time exactly what causes NASH. While it can affect younger individuals, the condition most often is seen in adults. Some other risk factors for NASH could include:

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes
  • Cholesterol that is high
  • Diagnosed high blood pressure
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Hispanic or Asian descent (but the condition can impact anyone)
  • Post-menopause

Without the proper care and attention, NASH could potentially cause a number of related health complications, ranging from cirrhosis and liver cancer to, in some cases, liver failure. If the condition is diagnosed, adjusting your weight, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol can positively impact not just your liver, but also your entire body.

Once diagnosed with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, you will want to routinely see your Utah gastroenterologist/hepatologist to keep an eye on your liver. To help alleviate your condition, your physician may recommend a combination of healthier eating, restricting your intake of sugar and sodium, and making sure you get regular exercise. We will also need to address any pre-existing conditions that may increase the risk and/or severity of NASH.

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What are the primary differences between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis?

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are both variations of fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is fat accumulation in the liver, yet with this condition, no damage has occurred. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that is also characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, but inflammation, damage, and even scarring have developed.

How might you recognize the signs of NASH if it does not produce symptoms?

Although there may be no noticeable symptoms of NASH, you could have fatigue or pain in the upper right side of your abdomen (where the liver is). In general, the initial sign of liver disease, such as NASH, is when cirrhosis occurs (scarring of the liver). There are certain symptoms of cirrhosis that you can watch for, including:

  • Itching of the skin
  • Swelling in the abdominal area
  • Yellowish appearance to the eyes and skin
If left untreated, what health complications might develop with NASH?

Without treatment, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis could lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. Fibrosis occurs when inflammation and scarring impact the liver. This scar tissue can overcome healthy tissue (cirrhosis), which might cause liver function to slow or cease entirely. Untreated, these conditions could cause liver cancer and liver failure.

Is it possible to reverse the damage caused by non-alcoholic steatohepatitis?

Those who are in the initial stages of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and have not experienced extensive damage to the liver might be able to reverse the effects of the condition through lifestyle changes. These might include proper nutrition, exercise, and weight loss. But if long-term or more extensive damage is present, the effects of the condition may be beyond repair. Our Utah digestive health physicians can offer further details surrounding this disease.

If you have been diagnosed with or are experiencing symptoms that indicate non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, it is critical that you work with a provider who can offer the attention you need to preserve your liver health and improve your quality of life. At Utah Gastroenterology, our physicians are passionate about placing your wellness first, and we take a patient-centric approach to your care. If you think you may have the condition or are searching for a provider who offers NASH treatment in Utah, call our practice to schedule a meeting with a GI specialist.

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My experience at Utah Gastrointerology could not have been better. I felt heard and subsequently cared for. Every step of the way I was invited to ask questions, listened to and never felt rushed. Great experience.

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Dr. Harmston is an excellent doctor who is friendly, competent and clearly answers any questions or concerns that come up. He is very knowledgeable and not hurried. I would heartily recommend him to any person with gastrointestinal issues. He is the best!

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Utah Gastroentronolgy was very helpful and accommodating. My appt was right on schedule so not a long wait (which was appreciated) The MA and Dr. we’re not in a hurry and allowed a lot of time for questions that I had. They are very thorough and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend this office to anyone having Gastroentronolgy questions and hoping/looking for help.

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