nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
T2D and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Diabetes is a serious condition that not only causes hormonal and blood sugar imbalances, but can also damage nerves, blood vessels and other organs. Common side effects of diabetes include poor circulation, non-healing foot and leg ulcers, vision loss, kidney damage and liver disease.  

At Texas Diabetes & Endocrinology (TD&E), our board-certified endocrinology experts treat diabetes and help with the many other issues that coincide with it, like Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). 

Here’s what you should know about the liver and diabetes related NAFLD…

The liver performs many functions including helping to regulate blood sugar levels, making vital proteins, and filtering toxins and chemicals from your blood. The liver can be damaged by alcohol, hepatitis, autoimmune diseases but much more commonly from fat accumulation which is called NAFLD.  

NAFLD can lead to serious complications such as liver cirrhosis, or scarring that could cause potential liver failure. 

Research shows that up to 70% of those living with type 2 diabetes (T2D) also have NAFLD. 

How is NAFLD diagnosed?

NAFLD is usually asymptomatic.  There are blood tests that can suggest the diagnosis but the best non-invasive test isa dedicated screening called FibroScan.  

TD&E is one of the only endocrinology clinics in Austin to offer this innovative diagnostic test to closely examine the liver. FibroScan uses ultrasound imaging to assess liver tissue and can quantify fat accumulation and the degree of liver damage., 

If you have T2D and abnormal liver labs or other risk factors such as obesity or high cholesterol your endocrinologist may suggest a FibroScan to assess your liver health. 

How do you treat NAFLD? 

While there currently is no cure for NAFLD, the same healthy lifestyle changes recommended to help manage diabetes can also help to slow, or even reverse, liver damage and decrease fatty buildup, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight if overweight or obese
  • Eating a well-balanced diet to lower high cholesterol levels 
  • Staying physically active and aiming for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week
  • Controlling your diabetes and blood glucose levels as directed by your endocrinologist
  • Avoiding alcohol or consuming in moderation

If you are living with T2D and have other risk factors for NAFLD, speak with your physician about getting screened. 

Contact Us to Help Manage your Diabetes, Osteoporosis and Thyroid Conditions 

If you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists at Texas Diabetes & Endocrinology and discover how our diabetes services  and other endocrinology therapies can help you lead a full and active life, please contact us at (512) 458-8400 or request an appointment online.  

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check back with us each month as we provide you helpful wellness and health information.

link between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and hypothyroidism
Study Finds Link Between Fatty Liver Disease and Hypothyroidism

One of the most common causes of liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when an abnormal amount of fat builds up liver cells. Affecting about 25% of adults, NAFLD often has no symptoms, especially in early stages, and can be easily missed in routine checkups. 

The condition can lead to liver swelling and damage, can cause liver cancer or failure, and puts patients at higher risk for heart disease.

Risk factors for NAFLD include high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high triglyceride levels. A recent study found that there is also a connection between this increasingly common disease and hypothyroidism.


An endocrine disorder, hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is not making enough thyroid hormones, which regulate the body’s growth, development and metabolism. Some symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Weight gain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Memory problems
  • Slowdown in heart rate
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Joint stiffness, pain and swelling
  • Dry, thinning hair
  • Dry skin
  • Fertility problems
  • Menstrual cycle changes
  • Constipation
  • Elevated cholesterol

The Connection Between NAFLD and Hypothyroidism

Since researchers have only recently discovered the connection between NAFLD and hypothyroidism, more research is needed to learn exactly how and why the two conditions are connected. 

In the meantime, it is known that total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels tend to be higher in those with hypothyroidism. Researchers believe hypothyroidism might cause NAFLD because of the increased levels of these types of fat in the liver. Leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, may also be to blame since it can cause insulin resistance and lead to liver damage.

In hopes of shaping screening, prevention and treatment, future research is expected to study whether NAFLD causes hypothyroidism or vice versa, or if they simply occur at the same time. Researchers may also examine whether the connection exists because of general thyroid dysfunction or key thyroid functions themselves.

NAFLD Diagnosis

Whether discovered through routine blood work during an annual physical or blood tests specifically looking at the liver, NAFLD is usually found when liver enzyme levels are high. Further blood work can rule out other liver problems, and imaging — including MRI, CT scan, ultrasound and elastography — is typically used to diagnose NAFLD. 

One of the first endocrinology clinics in Austin to offer the non-invasive procedure, Texas Diabetes & Endocrinology provides FibroScan, an innovative elastography exam that evaluates liver health and identifies liver issues including NAFLD. 

FibroScan is conducted with an ultrasound to measure the amount of fat in the liver, identify any scarring, and evaluate other concerns.

NAFLD Treatment   

Lifestyle changes are usually recommended to reverse or stop the progression of the disease:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Lose weight, if overweight or obese
  • Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Control diabetes
  • Avoid alcohol

For more information on Texas Diabetes thyroid services and imaging, schedule a consultation with one of our board certified endocrinologists by requesting an appointment online or call (512) 458-8400. 

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check back with us each month as we provide you with helpful health and wellness information.

Detecting Fatty Liver Disease with Fibroscan

Did you know that nearly one in four adults have an abnormal buildup of fat in the liver? Your liver works to clean toxins from your blood and processes nutrients, so it’s important to make sure it’s functioning properly. Read on to learn what you need to know about fatty liver disease and how it can be detecte

What is Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty liver disease happens when there is a buildup of fat in your liver, also known as hepatic steatosis. Too much fat in your liver can cause inflammation and, in severe cases, lead to liver failure.

What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?

There are two main forms of fatty liver disease – alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). AFLD is caused by excessive drinking, while NAFLD does not have an exact cause.

NAFLD affects up to 25 to 30 million people in the United States and Europe. While the cause is still unclear, factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a family history of liver disease can increase your risk.

How is Fatty Liver Disease Detected?

Fatty liver disease can develop without symptoms until it reaches advanced stages.  It can be missed in routine medical care, so it’s important to be proactive in detecting it. FibroScan is a non-invasive test that helps assess the health of your liver and identify issues that might impact the quality of liver function – like fatty liver disease. Texas Diabetes & Endocrinology is one of the first endocrinology clinics in the Austin area to provide this innovative procedure!

Conducted with ultrasound-based imaging, this cutting-edge diagnostic test gauges the amount of fat in the liver and allows specialists to assess the degree of stiffness in the liver tissue. FibroScans are not painful, and no sedation is needed. The scan only takes about 15 minutes to complete and the results will be ready for your doctor to review with you during your appointment.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check back with us each month as we provide you helpful health and wellness information.

There is a newer, silent epidemic striking one in four adults known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Find out if you’re at risk and about a painless, rapid test that we do here at Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology to detect it.