What are liver function tests?
These tests are also called liver chemistries. These tests determine the condition of your liver. It can give you an overall information about your liver by measuring the levels of nutrients and ions in the blood. The test is not that necessary but it is recommended in these following situations:
- When diagnosed with liver infection. You will need a liver function test to check the extent of damage of your liver infection.
- Monitoring the other effects of medications that affects the liver
- Battling liver disease
- Experiencing symptoms of a liver condition
- Having high levels of triglycerides, diabetes, and so on and so forth
- If you are a heavy drinker
- Dealing with gallbladder disease
Types of Liver Function Tests
Myriads of tests can be done on the liver. Each test is designed to check the different variations of the liver. Below are the common liver function tests:
1. ALT – alanine transaminase test
This measures the enzymes that the body produces whenever there is a disorder to the liver. If there is liver damage, ALT is released to your blood. This leads to a slight increase in the amount of ALT in your blood. If ALT is higher than the normal, then it is possible that you have sustained a liver damage. Numerically, ALT standard in female is 26 IU/L and 34 IU/L in males. If your ALT is slightly higher than your normal stats, chances are you have liver damage and you might want to require you to further tests and examination.
2. AST – aspartate aminotransferase test
Same as ALT, this also measures enzymes that indicates something is wrong with the liver. The AST enzyme can be found on different parts of the body. it can be found in your liver, heart, and muscles. AST is not that specific to the liver when compared to ALT. Since that is the case, AST measurements are often accompanied by ALT to get accurate results.
Same as ALT, when there is wrong with your liver, AST is also released in the blood. A higher than usual level of AST can mean an underlying problem from your liver.The AST level for adults is around 39 IU/L. This normal rage might even be higher on toddlers.
3. ALP alkaline phosphatase test
The ALP checks the bile duct system of the liver. Same as AST, ALP is also not a liver-specific enzyme. ALP can be found on various parts of the body. In the case of ALP, it is typically combined with another test to get accurate results. A high level of ALP might indicate many things. However, at times, ALP increases with valid reasons like for example, in adolescents their ALP increases due to their bone growing. ALP might also rise due to pregnancy. The normal amount of ALP for adults is around 121 U/L.
4. Albumin Test:
This test measures the activity of the body in terms of the production of albumin. Albumin is created by the liver. It actually is the main protein that has many functions and benefits for your body. The albumin protein prevents the leakage of fluid from your veins. The albumin protein also nourishes your cells. This protein has the ability to transports nourishment all throughout your body. This test calculates the amount of albumin your liver is synthesizing. Lower than the usual amount of Albumin means your liver might not be functioning well. Albumin normal range is 3.6–5.1 grams per deciliter (g/dL). Low albumin level does not only mean an indication of liver damage. It may also mean low nutrition, kidney disorder, inflammation and so on and so forth.
5. Bilirubin Test
The Bilirubin test checks how well does the liver disposes of bilirubin. Upon breakdown of the blood cells, a waste product is produced – bilirubin. This process is done by the liver then bilirubin is eliminated through your feces. If a liver is damaged, it will not create bilirubin and properly excrete it through your stools. Instead, this substance will be left in your blood. This leads to a high level of bilirubin in your blood. Upon checking, if the result is higher than usual, this may indicate that your liver is not functioning well. The normal range of bilirubin is around 0.1–1.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). However, there are some inherited diseases of the body that may raise the level of bilirubin without having no liver damage at all. This angle should also be taken into consideration.
Precaution in Liver Function Tests
These tests determine the normality of the liver. If there are or is an abnormality in any of these tests, another examination is typically followed to further know the cause of the abnormality. These tests too can be quite sensitive. A little abnormality when it comes to the level of production might mean an associated disease or illness. The experts conducting these tests should be careful and knowledgeable since some of these enzymes can be found on other parts of the body. Having said this, do not risk doing the testing procedure yourself. Ask your doctor or a specialist for help. The liver function test is not that elaborate. It simply checks the level of enzymes and protein in your blood. The decrease and increase in the normal ranges of each enzymes and proteins should have a first impression of liver damage, however, there are some factors worth taking into account for too.
What is the Significance of a Liver Function Test?
Your liver is such an important organ in your body. It is the main processor of energy and the main detoxifier of the body. A slight damage to your liver might pose health risks to your health. Keeping it at its topmost shape is necessary. From being a detoxifier to an energy processing machine of the body, it also caters to the following functions such as:
- Main converter of nutrients from your food intake;
- The storage of minerals and vitamins;
- It regulates the process of blood clotting;
- Removes waste product and toxins from your blood;
- Helps in fighting off infection;
- Maintains the balance of your hormone level;
- Regulates your blood sugar;
- A slight aberration in your liver can be detrimental for your overall wellness.
Symptoms of a liver disorder
- Sudden weakness;
- Sudden weight loss;
- Yellowing skin and eyes;
- The collection of fluid in the abdomen;
- Dark urine and stools;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained bruises in several parts of your body
If you are experiencing of these symptoms, it is better to consult a doctor to have you checked. There is a good chance where the doctor will recommend checking you up by the above-mentioned tests. These tests will reveal the extent of damage in your liver. It may also check the progression of your medicine in treating you and the other effects of this medication.
How to Prepare Yourself for a Liver Function Test
The physician is your best instructor when it comes into preparing your body for the test. Usually, your doctor will give you a set of instructions you need to do in order to prepare for blood extraction.
Medications, food, the environment, and your hereditary features will affect the level of enzymes and proteins in your blood. Before the actual test, your doctor will prohibit you in eating certain food and intake certain medications.