Liver Enzymes: What Are they, Why Are they Important?
You've probably heard of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. But very often, there are few early warning signs or symptoms of these diseases. Testing for elevated liver enzymes is one of the best ways to find out if a liver problem is developing.
Liver enzymes are proteins which help maintain a variety of chemical and metabolic processes that occur in the liver. The human liver contains thousands of these enzymes, and elevated liver enzymes may indicate damage to the liver cells or an obstruction to the biliary tract. Elevated liver enzymes don't often indicate a specific liver disease, but liver enzymes are probably the result of some form of liver disorder, even if you don't have any symptoms of liver problems.
These enzymes are also found in other parts of the body, including cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle, kidneys, brain, pancreas and lungs and both white and red blood cells. It can be fairly common to get laboratory report of elevated liver enzymes. . To determine the underlying cause of elevated liver enzymes, your doctor may recommend additional tests. Tests might include a direct physical examination by the doctor, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, biopsy, and liver blood tests.
There are few outward symptoms of severe liver disease. Possible symptoms, however, include pain in the lower right chest region, a noticeable size increase of the liver below the rib cage on the right, and visible jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes).
The causes of elevated liver enzymes vary widely depending upon the level and duration liver problems as well as the overall comparison of many other blood test indications. Common causes of elevated liver enzymes include:
Autoimmune disorders of the liver and bile ducts, such as autoimmune hepatitis. Diabetes Drinking too much alcohol Elevated triglycerides Excessive use of certain herbal supplements, such as kava, comfrey, pennyroyal and skullcap Infections such as viral hepatitis and mononucleosis Medications, including certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cholesterol-lowering medications, antibiotics and anti-seizure medications Metabolic liver disease, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease Obesity Tumors of the liver or bile ducts.
Treatment of elevated liver enzymes depends on the cause. It is especially important for you to talk to your doctor about any nutritional or herbal supplements you are taking. Many Chinese herbal preparations have been found to be extremely damaging to the liver and should be avoided as well as high doses of vitamin A and high doses of acetaminophen (Tylenol), especially if taken with alcohol. Sedatives and all unnecessary medications should also be avoided. Anyone who is overweight or obese should work with their doctor to try to take off some pounds. High fat diets can be stressful to the liver and cause injury.
Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For more information on the topics covered in this article, click on Liver Enzymes.
George McKenzie is a retired TV anchor, medical reporter and radio talk show host.