NAFLD usually causes no signs and symptoms. However, in some cases, there are some symptoms, which can impair the quality of life physically as well as psychologically. Other signs and symptoms of NASH and advanced scarring (cirrhosis) include enlarged spleen, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), abdominal swelling, also called ascites, enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface, and red palms.
Sometimes people may exhibit symptoms such as fatigue and abdominal pain in the centre or the right upper part of the abdomen. These symptoms impair the daily life of a person. The fatigue and pain can lead to constant discomfort.
Physical examination may show that the liver might be slightly enlarged. In some cases, people may have patchy, dark discoloration of the skin (acanthosis nigricans), and it is most commonly seen over the neck and the underarm area. This can hamper their self-esteem and create negative self-image psychologically.
Research suggests that individuals with a full spectrum of NAFLD have a reduced Quality of Life (QOL), which affects their physical health more than their mental health. Furthermore, there is an inverse relationship between severity of NAFLD and lower QOL. Increased fibrosis indicates a decrease in physical QOL. Factors independently associated with lower QOL include older age, female gender, presence of type 2 diabetes, and poverty.
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