Q:

What are elevated liver enzymes?

A:

Elevated liver enzymes occur when there is damage or inflammation on the liver. The damage causes the liver cells to produce a higher amount of certain chemicals, which are deposited into the bloodstream. The liver enzymes that are usually elevated in the blood include alanine transaminase, or ALT, and aspartate transaminase, or AST.

The most common causes of elevated liver enzymes include obesity, alcohol, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, certain over-the-counter pain drugs, certain prescription medications and fatty liver disease. The elevation is also linked to other conditions, such as heart attacks, liver cancer, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, Wilson's disease, mononucleosis, dermatomyositis and gallbladder inflammation, among others. A doctor will be able to determine the underlying cause after checking the symptoms and reviewing the medications of a person.

Elevation of the liver enzymes can occur temporarily, and it is usually detected during normal blood tests. Most of the time, the elevation may not indicate a serious liver problem, as stated by Mayo Clinic. At most times, the elevation can only be treated after treating the underlying cause. Further tests and procedures may be necessary to know the exact cause of the elevation. Liver tests will check for the availability of the enzymes in the blood, as stated by WebMD.

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