Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) refers to a condition caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of this disease. The disease progresses slowly and often there are no obvious signs to identify it in the early stages. However, if the condition worsens it can manifest through a variety of gastrointestinal issues which tend to worsen with time. Without timely treatment, it can lead to liver damage including cirrhosis.

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis refers to a form of NAFLD in which there is inflammation and damage to the liver due to excess fat cells. It is often silent and can cause digestive complications in the advanced stages of fatty liver disease. Below are some of the digestive complications that indicate advanced stages of fatty liver disease.

Abdominal distension
According to the World Journal of Gastroenterology, 80 percent of patients with cirrhosis report one or more gastrointestinal symptoms. The most common GI symptoms included flatulence in 49.5 percent of patients. Swelling can occur due to a build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity. If left untreated, this fluid build-up can lead to abdominal infections.

Abdominal pain
Most patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease do not have any symptoms or have upper abdominal pain. It is usually a dull or aching pain. Along with abdominal pain, they may also experience nausea and loss of appetite.

Research has found an association between signs of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), such as heartburn, regurgitation (when a mixture of gastric juices and sometimes undigested food back up into the mouth), and belching. A positive link was found.

Trouble digesting and expelling food
Along with difficulty in digesting and moving food, you may experience fullness in the upper right side of the abdomen. If you experience any of the above-mentioned two or more symptoms along with each other, it is advised that you visit your doctor. If treatment is delayed, it can lead to further complications like malnutrition and gastric bleeding.