A new type of fatty liver disease is on the rise in Singapore. How is it diagnosed and treated?
Traditionally, liver disease has often been linked to alcohol consumption. But of late, a new type of liver disease is on the rise in Singapore. It is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
If recent studies are any indication, NAFLD could well be affecting half of the adults here in Singapore.
Fatty liver disease in Singapore
According to The Straits Times, the study was conducted by SingHealth doctors. Professor Pierce Chow, the lead doctor in the study, said it probably means that the rate here could be higher than the Asian average of about 30 per cent of adults.
People with NAFLD also tend to have increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels. What makes this disease especially lethal is its lack of symptoms; because of which non alcoholic fatty liver disease is rarely discovered until its too late.
There seems to be increasing evidence of obesity being linked to fatty liver disease. The more obese a person, the greater are the chances of him having a fatty liver.
So it comes as no surprise that fatty liver disease is a growing concern in many developed countries that face increasing obesity. Indians seem to be more at risk from this disease.
If left untreated, NAFLD can progress to more advanced liver disease such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Who is at risk for fatty liver disease in Singapore?
You are at an increased risk of NAFLD if you:
- are obese or overweight – particularly if you have a lot of fat around your waist and abdomen.
- have type 2 diabetes
- have high blood pressure
- have high cholesterol
- are over the age of 50
Symptoms of NAFLD
There aren't usually any symptoms of NAFLD in the early stages. In the later stages, symptoms may include:
- a dull or aching pain in the top right of the tummy (over the lower right side of the ribs)
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- loss of appetite
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.
How is fatty liver disease in Singapore diagnosed? Go to the next page to find out!