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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a group of conditions caused by high levels of fat in the liver.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease usually has no symptoms. Some people may have tummy pain and feel weak and very tired.

There are no medicines for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Things like losing weight, eating healthily and regular exercise can help.

Things that increase your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease include being overweight, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Read more on the NHS website.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease usually has no symptoms. Some people may have tummy pain and feel weak and very tired.

Symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

There are not usually any symptoms of NAFLD in the early stages. You probably will not know you have it unless it's diagnosed during tests carried out for another reason.

Occasionally, people with NASH or fibrosis (more advanced stages of NAFLD) may experience:

If cirrhosis (the most advanced stage) develops, you can get more severe symptoms, such as yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice), itchy skin, and swelling in the legs, ankles, feet or tummy (oedema).

Read more on the NHS website.

There are no medicines for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Things like losing weight, eating healthily and regular exercise can help.

Medical treatments

Most people with NAFLD will not develop any serious problems, but if you're diagnosed with the condition it's a good idea to take steps to stop it getting any worse.

There's currently no specific medication for NAFLD, but making healthy lifestyle choices can help.

Treatment also may be recommended for associated conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol) or complications.

You may be advised to have regular appointments with your doctor to check your liver function and look for signs of any new problems.

Self-care

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the main way of managing NAFLD.

For example, it can help to: 

  • lose weight – you should aim for a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 (use the BMI calculator to work out your BMI); losing more than 10% of your weight can remove some fat from the liver and improve NASH if you have it
  • eat a healthy diet – try to have a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates, but low in fat, sugar and salt; eating smaller portions of food can help, too
  • exercise regularly – aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking or cycling, a week; all types of exercise can help improve NAFLD, even if you do not lose weight
  • stop smoking – if you smoke, stopping can help reduce your risk of problems such as heart attacks and strokes

NAFLD is not caused by alcohol, but drinking may make it worse. It's therefore advisable to cut down or stop drinking alcohol.

Read more on the NHS website.

Things that increase your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease include being overweight, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Read more on the NHS website.