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Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, is caused by too much fat in your liver and is not the result of excessive alcohol consumption.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease includes two conditions, simple fatty liver and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

  • NAFLD – Simple Fatty Liver
    Simple fatty liver, also called nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL), is a form of NAFLD where there is fat in your liver but little or no inflammation or liver cell damage. Simple fatty liver does not usually cause liver damage or complications.
  • NASH – Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis
    NASH is a form of NAFLD with more fat in the liver than NAFL that is associated with inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) and liver cell damage. This can result in fibrosis, or scarring, of the liver. NASH may lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

NAFLD is one of the most common types of liver disease in the U.S. Between 30 and 40% of adults in the U.S. have NAFLD, and about 3 to 12% of adults have NASH.

Our liver disease specialists will work with you to develop a treatment plan. To make an appointment call 410-328-1358.

NAFLD Symptoms

Patients with NAFLD usually have few or no symptoms. Symptoms can include tiredness or discomfort in the upper right side of your abdomen.

NAFLD Risk Factors

You may have one or more risk factors that include:

  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
  • Obesity
  • Ethnicity – Hispanic, followed by non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans
  • High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  • High blood pressure
  • Medication such as corticosteroids and some cancer drugs
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Hepatitis C

Diagnosing NAFLD

With few symptoms, it is not easy to diagnose nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It is sometimes diagnosed from abnormal liver test results for another condition.

At the University of Maryland Medical Center, liver specialists, or hepatologists, diagnose NAFLD by reviewing your medical and family history, doing a physical exam, and diagnostic tests that may include blood tests, imaging and a liver biopsy.

  • Blood tests evaluate your liver function and check for anemia, internal bleeding and infection such as cirrhosis.
  • Imaging tests such as MRI, ultrasound, X-ray and CT show your liver’s condition, including whether it is enlarged.
  • Liver biopsy evaluates a small sample of liver tissue to diagnose various cause of liver disease

NAFLD Treatment

There are currently no approved medications to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, although clinical trials are underway to test novel agents. Losing weight can help reduce liver inflammation and fat in your liver. Gradually losing at least up to 10% of your body weight, over more than a year, can produce best results. Losing weight too fast may make NAFLD worse. We can treat complications of NAFLD, which include cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Our registered dietitians can help you make diet and lifestyle changes to lose weight safely and permanently.

You may also benefit from physical therapy. Our physical therapists can help you devise an exercise program that, along with your diet, can help you maintain or gain strength and flexibility as you lose weight. Clinical trials are available for eligible individuals.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment with one of our liver disease specialists, call 410-328-1358.