- Liver enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in our body. They produce bile and substances that help clot blood, break down food and toxins, and fight infections.
- Elevated liver enzymes often mean there is inflammation or damage to the cells in the liver.
- The most common symptoms are abdominal pain, dark urine, fatigue, itching, jaundice, light colored stools, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.
- Treatment will depend on what’s causing elevated liver enzymes. It could be anything from a medical condition like fatty liver disease to lifestyle choices like alcohol consumption.
Elevated liver enzymes is not a term we hear very often, but that’s not because they aren’t important! A doctor will test liver enzyme levels during a liver function test (LFT) or liver panel. It can be performed through a simple blood test and is usually done during a regular check up or if a person is at risk for liver injury, damage, or disease, says the Cleveland Clinic.
If the test shows elevated liver enzymes, it often means there is inflammation or damage to the cells in the liver. “Inflamed or injured liver cells leak higher than normal amounts of certain chemicals, including liver enzymes, into the bloodstream, elevating liver enzymes on blood tests,” writes the Mayo Clinic. To learn more about elevated liver enzymes, here’s a look into the symptoms, causes, treatment options, and some preventative tips…
What are Liver Enzymes?
While we all know what our liver is and most even know its function, you’ve likely never heard of liver enzymes. So, what are they? Liver enzymes are proteins that speed up the chemical reactions in our body, explains Cleveland Clinic. “These chemical reactions include producing bile and substances that help your blood clot, breaking down food and toxins, and fighting infection,” writes the source.
Liver enzymes include the following: alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). A liver injury or one that is simply not functioning properly, will release enzymes into the bloodstream (this is common in ALT or AST), says Cleveland Clinic.