8 questions to understand fatty liver|Disease education science


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an increasingly common disease, affecting more than 25% of adults worldwide. How much do you know about NAFLD? This article helps patients understand the disease by answering 8 frequently asked questions about NAFLD and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Q1: Where is the liver located?

The liver is located in the upper right abdomen of the human body, and most of it is covered by the costal arch. Under normal circumstances, the liver is generally not easy to touch on the adult body surface.

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Q2: What are NAFLD and NASH?

Fatty liver disease is a clinicopathological syndrome characterized by excessive fat accumulation and steatosis in hepatic cells, except for fatty liver disease caused by alcohol and other definite liver damage factors as NAFLD. NAFLD can make a patient’s liver unhealthy and can cause inflammation and scarring of the liver, which can lead to NASH.

Q3: Why is it important to understand these situations?

NAFLD and NASH may not show any symptoms until the patient develops permanent complications, including liver damage, liver cancer, and heart disease (such as heart attack and heart failure). If NAFLD and NASH are caught early, treatment can reverse the condition and help prevent serious complications.

Q4: What are the causes of NAFLD?

The main risk factors for NAFLD are metabolic syndrome, obesity (especially abdominal obesity), insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia. Other conditions such as lipodystrophy (fat loss), chronic kidney disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome also increase the risk of NAFLD.

Q5: How to judge whether there is a risk of NAFLD?

The risk of NAFLD may be increased if you have features of the metabolic syndrome (elevated blood sugar, elevated blood triglycerides, increased waist circumference, and hypertension), diabetes, and obesity. The more of the above conditions, the higher the risk of developing NAFLD. Having NAFLD or NASH in family members may also increase the individual’s own risk of developing NAFLD. Evaluation for NAFLD and NASH requires discussion with a healthcare professional, possibly in collaboration with a specialist.

Q6: What should I do if I have NAFLD or NASH?

Please consult a healthcare professional for an individual treatment plan. Exercise 3 hours or more per week, adjust your diet, lose weight (5-10%), and avoid alcohol. Consultation with a nutritionist may be beneficial. Management of the underlying disease is required, which may include drug therapy.

Q7: Is it safe for patients with NAFLD to take statins?

If a patient has high cholesterol levels, it is important to take statins to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Statins are safe in most patients with NAFLD, but their use should be discussed with an individual’s healthcare professional.

Q8: How much alcohol can I drink if I have NAFLD or NASH?

The liver heals itself best when not drinking alcohol. If a patient’s liver recovers during treatment, small amounts of alcohol may be acceptable after discussing the condition with a healthcare professional.


[1] Duell PB, Welty FK, Miller M, et al. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Cardiovascular Risk: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association[J]. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2022 Apr 14:101161ATV0000000000001/doi151: ATV.0000000000000153.

[2] Ge Junbo, Xu Yongjian, Wang Chen, et al. Internal Medicine (Ninth Edition) [M]. People’s Medical Publishing House, 2018:391.