Elevated liver enzymes may indicate that a patient’s liver is not functioning properly. Damaged liver cells release increased levels of enzymes into the bloodstream which can be detected through a simple blood test. Two blood tests that are often used are called aspartate transaminase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT).
Elevated liver enzymes can be caused by a number of different conditions. The most common cause is liver disease. Other causes of liver disease include:
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
One type of liver damage, cirrhosis, is scarring that can impede the liver’s ability to function. The scarring is produced by long-standing inflammation. Cirrhosis may eventually lead to liver failure, which would require a liver transplant.
Hepatitis is liver inflammation which may be caused by:
- Viral infection (there are five strains of viral hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E)
Symptoms of hepatitis include:
- Decreased appetite
- Muscle soreness
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Dark colored urine
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is excess fat buildup in liver cells not caused by alcohol consumption. It is one of the most common types of chronic liver disease in the United States.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease usually causes no signs or symptoms, and is often discovered when liver tests are found to be abnormal. If symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Discomfort in the upper right abdomen