What Are Liver Enzymes
Enzymes are proteins in your body that speed up the bodys biochemical reactions. Each enzyme works on a specific chemical reaction.
In your liver, enzymes break down bilirubin, a blood waste product. They also help turn proteins and carbohydrates, including glucose, into energy that your body can use.
Common liver enzymes include:
- Alanine transaminase
- Aspartate transaminase
- Alkaline phosphatase
- Gamma-glutamyl transferase
These commonly-measured enzymes are usually found inside your liver. When the liver is distressed or damaged, it can release extra enzymes into your bloodstream.
Take note: Higher ALT and AST levels don’t always mean a serious liver or medical condition. Many things can cause a temporary liver enzyme spike that resolves naturally.
What Does Elevated Liver Enzymes Mean
A liver function test is done to evaluate the overall health of the liver. In the liver function test, levels of various important enzymes of the liver are determined. Alanine transaminase , Alkaline phosphatase , Aspartate transaminase , and Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase are the important liver enzymes. The levels of these enzymes get elevated in various liver diseases. In some cases, the elevated enzymes are elevated only to a smaller level. In such cases, they dont indicate any serious or progressive liver disease.
Can I Take The Test At Home
There are options for at-home tests of ALT, but it is much more common to have this test done in a medical setting.
Certain at-home test kits include several measurements related to liver health, including ALT. With these tests, you can collect a blood sample at home, but you must mail it to a laboratory where it can be analyzed. At-home tests do not usually require a prescription.
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How Can Your Veterinarian Diagnose Liver Problems
There are many ways to check the liver, blood tests being just one of them. Other tests include
- Touching the cats abdomen to feel the liver and its size.
- Looking at the cats gums, the membranes under the eye and other tissues to look for jaundice.
- Using an ultrasound to look for changes in the livers inner structure.
- Taking a biopsy and look at the liver cells under a microscope.
Your vet will also take into consideration your cats age and the overall condition of their health. He or she may ask you about what you feed your cat and inquire about changes in your cats appetite and eating and drinking habits, as well as overall behavioral changes.
Its important to remember that the liver functions blood tests are just one tool. The results are usually not enough on their own.
Questions For Your Doctor About Test Results
A conversation with your doctor about your ALT test can help ensure that you are informed about your results. Some of the following questions may make it easier to cover key information when you talk with your physician:
- What was my ALT level? Was it in the normal reference range?
- Were any other measurements taken? If so, were they normal or abnormal?
- What do the test results mean for my overall health?
- Do you recommend any follow-up tests? If so, which ones and what are their benefits and risks?
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How To Know If You Have Elevated Liver Enzymes
Most people with elevated liver enzymes are usually asymptomatic, but the underlying conditions responsible for the high levels of liver enzymes may show themselves in the form of symptoms. Liver damage and other diseases that may be a probable cause show symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
How Is Alanine Aminotransferase Different From Alkaline Phosphatase
Alkaline phosphatase, or ALP, is another liver enzyme that is measured in a standard liver panel or comprehensive metabolic panel. ALP is produced and found in the liver, but it is also present in a number of other tissues in the body, including the bones.
ALP and ALK are used to detect different types of liver problems. ALT is an indicator of possible damage to the cells of the liver, and ALP is more often analyzed for its relation to possible blockage of the bile ducts that are inside and outside of the liver.
Because ALP is present in the bones, ALP testing is a better way of detecting bone disorders.
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What Does The Liver Do
The main function of the liver is to help with your dogs digestive system and to also help to get rid of nasty toxins and waste material. Alongside these functions the liver also metabolizes Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat all of these complex functions are undertaken via your dogs blood stream in fact 20% of a dogs blood is goes via the liver.
The liver is also the first point of contact as a working organ that has the opportunity to benefit from the nutrients absorbed by the stomach and intestines. Alongside all of these function the canine liver also helps to regulate the dogs temperature.
Before a vet can undertake an accurate diagnosis and then treat elevated liver enzymes in dogs the vet will need to compare the individual blood levels i.e.
- Total Bilirubin
The vet will then compare how these compare with a dogs previous levels.
Top Causes Of High Liver Enzymes
While most of the time mildly elevated liver enzymes are only temporary and do not indicate a chronic problem, often they do indicate there is a problem and the liver is suffering.
Elevated liver enzymes are most often caused by:
Although the above list is not exhaustive, keep in mind that a fatty liver is by far the most common cause of elevated liver enzymes.
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Common Medications That Can Cause Liver Damage
The best known medication that can damage the liver is acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol®. This medication is widely available without prescription and is present in many of the cold and flu remedies sold in drugstores as well as in prescription pain medications. ;Most pain medications that are labeled as non-aspirin have acetaminophen as its main ingredient.
Acetaminophen, when used as directed, is extremely safe even for people with liver disease. However, taking too much acetaminophen at once, or taking a high dose of acetaminophen continuously over several days can cause damage to the liver. Healthy individuals should not take more than 1,000 mg of acetaminophen per dose, and should not take more than 4,000mg in one day . In addition, even healthy persons should avoid taking 3,000mg of acetaminophen daily for more than 3 to 5 days. Patients with liver disease should restrict the daily amount of acetaminophen to 2,000mg per day, or even less if severe liver disease is present. Even if you have no liver disease, always use the smallest amount of acetaminophen needed to obtain relief. It is important that you read the labels of all prescription and non-prescription medications that you take. Often acetaminophen may be present in several medications which could cause you to take a dose of acetaminophen that exceeds the safe limits.
Symptoms Diagnosis & Treatment
- The opposite reaction may also occur i.e. constipation.
- Lethargy and tiredness can also be symptoms of raised enzyme levels.
- Your dog might also start to lose its appetite and may also lose weight as a consequence.
- You may also notice when your dog poops the poop is grey as opposed to its normal brown color.
- Anemia may develop.
- Fluid may also start accumulate in the abdomen.
- Your pooch may appear depressed or out of sorts.
- Bleeding disorders can also occur.
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Can Stress Raise Liver Enzymes
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Why Should I Know My Serum Alt
This is a simple and quick test and it can give a good indication if your liver is healthy, or it can indicate potential problems that need investigating further. The liver is unusual in that it can become extremely damaged without you noticing. Checking on your liver health with a simple ALT test can be life saving.
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Elevated Liver Enzymes In Cats What Could They Mean
According to Dr. Miller, the results can be indicative of many conditions. Its important to look not just at the separate figures, but at the ratios between them and the overall pattern they create.
The list of possible health conditions that cause liver enzyme counts to go up is very long. Here are the common ones:
- Hepatic lipidosis
- Biliary stasis
- E. coli enteritis
Clearly, the source of the problem is not always the liver itself. In fact, sometimes the enzymes arent coming from the liver, because other organs produce the same enzyme.
Read more on Hepatic lipidosis:Why Has My Cat Stopped Eating And Is It Dangerous?
Could this be nothing?
Dr. Miller says that benign elevation of enzymes is rare in cats.The exception would be with elevated levels of ALP in kittens. This can happen due to rapid bone growth, as osteoblasts cells involved with bone formation also produce ALP. In kittens, this can be a benign finding.
There are a few drugs that can elevate enzymes. If this happens, your vet may suggest that you stop the medication. Please note that you should never stop a course of medication without asking your vet first as in some situations, the benefit from the drug could still outweigh potential risks.
Anthropometric And Blood Pressure Data
Trained personnel measured the anthropometric and blood pressure data and recorded in the questionnaire form according to the standard procedure described elsewhere . An individuals body weight and height were measured to calculate the BMI . Using a digital BP machine , individuals BP was measured on the left arm in a sitting position after the participant rested for 10min. The first BP measurement was discarded to avoid possible effects of anxiety, and the mean value of the second and third measurements was count for systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure . The participants were requested to avoid coffee, tea and smoking for 30min before BP measurements. Physical activity was categorized as low, medium and adequate based on participation in any activities such as jogging, bicycling, swimming or daily sports. The questionnaire also asked about the smoking status of the participants . Individual food habits and brief lifestyle information were also recorded in the questionnaire form.
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University Of Edinburgh Study First To Connect Psychological Wellbeing And Liver Failure
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A 10-year study has revealed a startling link between high levels of anxiety and an increased risk of death from liver disease.
The research, carried out by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, took account for obvious sociological and physiological factors such as alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes and class, but still the data pointed to a clear relationship between the psychological conditions of stress and depression and the physical health of the hepatic system.
There were over 165,000 participants surveyed for mental distress. They were each tracked for over a decade during which time the causes of death for those who passed on were recorded and categorised. What was found was that those whod scored highly for signs of depression and stress were far more likely to suffer fatal liver disease.
Natural Approaches To Lowering Liver Enzymes
Many liver diseases have no pharmacological treatment, and taking steps to heal the liver naturally is the best option. Lifestyle changes such as following a nutritionally adequate diet, getting enough exercise, avoiding toxins, and maintaining optimum weight may all contribute to liver healing and a normalization of liver enzymes.
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Stress Fatigue And Liver Enzymes
; July 1998′). As stress levels increased in the study participants, symptoms of fatigue began to develop. Measurements taken after fatigue developed showed a significant elevation in aspartate transaminase levels, indicating that high aspartate transaminase levels are a sign of fatigue. However, more research is needed to determine what other factors affect the way fatigue and liver enzymes interact, as well as their overall implication on liver health.
- As stress levels increased in the study participants, symptoms of fatigue began to develop.
- However, more research is needed to determine what other factors affect the way fatigue and liver enzymes interact, as well as their overall implication on liver health.
Medication Use In People With Liver Disease
With very rare exceptions, people that have mild liver disease can safely take most common prescription and non-prescription medications at the recommended dose. Having mild liver disease such as hepatitis C or fatty liver does not increase the risk that a given medication will be toxic to the liver, however, if a person with pre-existing liver disease happens to develop liver injury from a medication, the resulting liver damage may be more severe than would occur in an otherwise healthy person with the same reaction. For that reason, whenever possible, physicians prefer to use liver-safe medications when we know a person has liver disease.
Often physicians may be reluctant to start patients on a cholesterol lowering medication if the liver tests are already mildly elevated; usually due to fatty liver disease. Research has shown that cholesterol lowering medications are safe in people with fatty liver disease or mild hepatitis C infection, and in fact, may be beneficial to the liver by decreasing inflammation.
People with more severe types of liver disease such as cirrhosis have to be more careful regarding the types and dose of medications they take. While the ability of the liver to properly break down and utilize medications is preserved even when severe liver disease is present, there are some medications that should not be used or should be used at reduced dose when given to patients with advanced cirrhosis.
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Depression And Elevated Liver Enzymes
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Many people with depression are prescribed antidepressant medications by a health care provider.Antidepressant medications not only affect biochemicals in the brain to help alleviate symptoms of depression, they may be impacting other organs in the body. The liver is one such organ that may be affected by antidepressant medications, according to the July 2007 issue of the Annals of Pharmacology. 1
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Alcohol Or Drug Use Disorder
Drinking too much alcohol or using illicit drugs may lead to liver inflammation or damage.
Liver inflammation due to alcohol consumption is called alcoholic hepatitis. When drugs are the underlying cause, doctors call it toxic hepatitis.
The symptoms of alcoholic and toxic hepatitis are similar to those of other strains of hepatitis.
If a person is experiencing symptoms of alcohol or drug use disorder, the doctor may check their liver enzyme levels and offer various forms of treatment and support.
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Ask A Laboratory Scientist
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Signs You Suffer From Liver Stress
Our liver is the most hardworking but undervalued organ in the body. Everybody talks about having a healthy heart, weight loss, glowing skin and so on. However, it is our liver that works the hardest in the body and performs approximately 500 or more functions from storing sugar, minerals and vitamins as fuel for the body. It also controls the production and excretion of cholesterol etc. The liver contains bile stored in the gallbladder, and this helps to break down fats.
Just like the heart, the liver also gets stressed, but unlike a stressed heart, the symptoms of a distressed liver show up very late. Stress in the liver shows up when the liver is overworked and sluggish. This organ filters out all foreign particles such as food additives, tobacco, alcohol and environmental factors.
So how do we know if our liver is in distress? Here are seven crucial signs of a stressed liver that we should never ignore:
Liver stress sign #1 Your skin colour changes
Have you noticed skin discolouration? If yes, then it is the first sign of a liver in distress. If your skin colour changes to jaundice yellow or pale with a blue tinge, or if your nails or fingertips turn yellow, there is trouble brewing. This change in colour happens because the body is unable to flush out the toxins. When these toxins accumulate over a period, they cause bilirubin to develop under the skin causing discolouration.
Liver stress sign #2;Suffering from digestion problems
Liver stress sign #4;Fatigue
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What Are High Liver Enzymes
When going in for a routine doctor appointment, patients may find that they have elevated liver enzymes. This is usually found while taking a simple blood test. Elevated liver enzymes are a product of inflamed or damaged liver cells leaking more than the usual amounts of certain chemicals, including liver enzymes into the bloodstream.
The most common elevated liver enzymes found in bloodstreams are:
- Alanine transaminase
- Alkaline phosphatase
- Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase
Elevated liver enzymes are sometimes due to mild or unimportant conditions, but they can also be indicative of something more severe like liver disease or cancer of the liver or pancreas, so it is critical to get them checked out. Other times they can just be a product of muscle damage.
This is why its crucial to consult a physician who specializes in both liver disease and muscle disease when these situations arise.