The Causes Of Elevated Or Lowered Liver Enzymes

Elevated or lowered liver enzymes can be caused by a variety of conditions. A blood test called Liver Function Tests can determine a probable liver problem.

Liver enzymes are proteins that help speed up a chemical reaction within the liver. They perform a variety of functions in the body such as filtration and cleansing of the blood,excretion and metabolism. The liver is greatly involved in removing toxins from the body. It also makes proteins that aid in the clotting of our blood. When liver enzymes are elevated or decreased, it is a sign of liver impairment that cannot be ignored.

Liver Enzymes are as follows (some are abbreviations:


ALP or alkaline phosphate

AST or aspertate aminotransferase

GGT or gamma glutamyl transpeptidase

PT or prothrombin time (which controls blood clotting)

Serum Bilirubin

Urine Bilirubin

Symptoms of a liver disorder are varied and may include some of the following: lower right chest pain, fever, tenderness in abdomen in the region of the liver (increased liver size), jaundiced skin and whites of eyes, vomiting blood, black tarry stools, distended abdomen, enlarged spleen, foul breath, ankle edema and anemia. Other symptoms may also be present.

A liver disorder can be detected in a variety of ways from physical examination to a multitude of tests such as ultrasound, CT, MRI, biopsy. Liver abnormalities can also be detected through the blood in tests called LFT's which are Liver Function Tests. LFT's are a panel of usually seven blood tests performed on a sample of blood.

A variety of conditions will elevate liver enzymes. The three major liver disorders/diseases are caused by alcohol consumption: Fatty Liver, Acute Alcoholic Hepatitis and Chronic Alcoholic Liver Disease. Other conditions that will also cause elevated liver enzymes are varied and include, but are not limited to the following: Cirrhosis (seen mostly in 90% of middle aged women), fatty liver, liver injury, cancerous or benign liver tumors, alcoholic liver disease, certain autoimmune disorders, hepatitis, obesity, diabetes, Wilson's disease, biliary obstructions, gallstones, pancreatitis,certain muscle disorders, celiac disease, heart attack, high cholesterol, mononucleosis, Lupus, leukemia, tuberculosis. Taking certain medications such as acetaminophen, tetracycline and some chemotherapy drugs may also elevate the liver enzymes.

On the other hand, liver enzymes can also show up in the blood as being decreased. The causes of lowered liver enzymes are also multiple and sometimes specific to a certain liver enzyme. For example, a low B.U.N., or Blood Urea Nitrogen that is decreased can be due to poor diet, malabsorption or liver damage. A lowered Creatinine level may be due to kidney damage, protein deficiency, pregnancy or liver disease. The reasons for decreased liver enzymes may include the following: malabsorption, poor diet, diet low in foods with nitrogen, fever, diarrhea, infection, inadequate iron intake, severe burns, hypocalcemia, protein and other vitamin deficiencies, pregnancy, malnutrition, hypothyroidism, adrenal exhaustion, low organ activity, kidney disease or damage, excessive fat digestion, and of course liver disease.

Both elevated and decreased liver enzymes are a cause for concern. Your liver plays a vital function in your body.If you think you may be having a liver problem, see your family doctor and ask that they do Liver Function Testing (LFT's), which are included in most basic panels of blood work.

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