Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, is inflammation of the liver caused by a buildup of fat in liver cells. NASH has features similar to alcohol-induced liver disease, but it occurs in people who do not abuse alcohol.

The exact cause of NASH is not known. NASH is part of a group of liver diseases known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In this group of diseases, fat builds up in the liver and sometimes causes liver damage that gets worse over time (progressive liver damage). People who get NASH are usually middle-aged and overweight or obese and often have other conditions such as diabetes. But NASH can occur in a person who has none of these risk factors.

Many people with NASH have no symptoms and do not know that they have the condition. As NASH gets worse, symptoms may appear and include being tired all the time and having unexplained weight loss and general weakness.

There is no standard treatment for NASH. If you do not have symptoms, treatment may not be needed. If your liver shows scarring (fibrosis), treatment may include reducing cholesterol levels, losing weight, controlling diabetes, and stopping the use of medicines that may make symptoms worse. You should avoid alcohol if your liver is scarred, because alcohol makes damage to the liver worse.

Last Updated: July 15, 2009

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology

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