The key difference between NAFLD and NASH is that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a disease in which extra fat accumulates in the liver in people who do not consume alcohol, while non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a type of NAFLD that involves inflammation, liver cell damage, and fat build-up in the liver.
There are many types of liver diseases such as fatty liver, cirrhosis, liver cancer, alcoholic liver disease, NAFLD, hepatitis, liver failure and chronic liver disease, etc. Alcohol consumption and infections are two common factors for liver diseases. However, NAFLD is a liver condition that arises due to the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who consume little alcohol or no alcohol. The majority of the people who have NAFLD does not suffer from complications. But 20 % of NAFLD people have complications such as liver cancers, cirrhosis etc. There are two types of NAFLD as simple fatty liver and NASH. Simple fatty liver is not a serious liver condition. NASH is a serious liver condition that causes liver complications such as cancers, cirrhosis and liver damage due to inflammation and liver cell damage.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is NAFLD
3. What is NASH
4. Similarities Between NAFLD and NASH
5. Side by Side Comparison – NAFLD vs NASH in Tabular Form
What is NAFLD?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition caused due to the accumulation of excess fat in the liver. It is not caused due to the heavy use of alcohols. It can arise in people who consume little alcohol or no alcohol. There are two types of NAFLD as simple fatty liver and NASH. Simple fatty liver is not a serious disease condition that leads to complications. It does not cause liver cell damage or inflammation. The majority of the people who have NAFLD suffer from simple fatty liver. NASH is the second type of NAFLD. It is a serious condition that may lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis due to inflammation and liver cell damage.
NAFLD is a common liver disease among people. However, 80 % of NAFLD patients have simple fatty liver. Only 20% of NAFLD patients suffer from NASH. NAFLD is more commonly seen in people who suffer from obesity, type 2 diabetes (obesity-related conditions), elevated blood lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides and high blood pressure. NAFLD can develop among a whole range of people, including children. However, it is more likely to be developed when ageing.
What is NASH?
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a type of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that arises due to the storage of excess fat in the liver. About 20 % of the people who have NAFLD suffer from NASH. NASH is a serious liver condition. It is caused by inflammation and liver cell damage. It leads to fibrosis of the liver.
Unlike simple fatty liver, NASH leads to complications. With time, NASH can cause liver cancers and cirrhosis. The causes of NASH are obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal levels of cholesterol in the blood, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
What are the Similarities Between NAFLD and NASH?
- NAFLD and NASH are liver diseases.
- In fact, NASH is a type of NAFLD.
- NASH and NAFLD occur in the liver due to excess fat build-up.
- Both can be caused due to obesity and obesity-related diseases.
- Blood tests, imaging tests, and sometimes liver biopsy are several tests used to diagnose both diseases.
- Doctors recommend weight loss to treat both diseases.
- Moreover, having a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent both types of diseases.
What is the Difference Between NAFLD and NASH?
The key difference between NAFLD and NASH is that NAFLD is a type of liver condition that arises due to excess fat deposition in the liver, while NASH is a type of NAFLD and is a serious liver condition that arises due to inflammation and liver cell damage. The majority of NAFLD patients suffer from simple fatty liver. About 20% of NAFLD patients suffer from NASH. Moreover, NAFLD does not cause liver cancers and cirrhosis. But, NASH may lead to liver cancers and cirrhosis. So, this is an important difference between NAFLD and NASH.
The below infographic summarizes the differences between NAFLD and NASH in tabular form.
Summary – NAFLD vs NASH
NAFLD is a condition that describes the deposition of excess fat in our liver. The storage of fat does not cause the heavy use of alcohols. There are two types of NAFLD: simple fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Simple fatty liver (non-alcoholic fatty liver) is a condition in which excess fat is stored in the liver, but it does not cause liver cell damage or inflammation. It will not lead to liver damage or complication. NASH is a type of NAFLD in which inflammation and liver cell damages are caused due to excess fat in the liver. Liver cancer and cirrhosis are the final outcomes of NASH. Furthermore, NASH can cause fibrosis or scarring of the liver. Thus, this is the difference between NAFLD and NASH.
1. “Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).” Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) | ACG Patients, Available here.
2. “Definition & Facts of NAFLD & NASH.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Nov. 2016, Available here.
1. “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease1” By Nephron – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Liver Cirrhosis” By BruceBlaus – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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