The process of filtration, cleansing, excretion, and metabolism in the body is carried out with the help of liver enzymes. When the liver suffers from some kind of inflammation or damage, it indicates its condition through elevated levels of enzyme secretions. The most common of these enzymes are alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST). This condition, however, is mild by nature and of a temporary significance. In most cases, it has been found that this condition does not raise any critical concerns for the affected person.
Causes of Abnormal levels of Liver Enzymes
The most common cause of all is alcohol consumption. Alcohol based drinks contain ethanol which is broken down and formed into acetaldehyde ; a more toxic substance. Now, metabolism of this substance requires extra efforts from the liver and this creates an outbreak of over secretion of the enzymes.
Apart from this, conditions such as liver cancer, alcoholic hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis, celiac disease (a disorder in children and adults; inability to tolerate wheat protein [gluten]), cirrhosis (a chronic disease interfering with the normal functioning of the liver), cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, dermatomyositis (myositis characterized by weakness of limb and neck muscles and muscle pain and swelling accompanied by a skin rash, affecting cheeks and eyelids, neck, chest and limbs), epstein-barr virus and gallbladder infections may also increase the level of enzymes.
Hepatitis A, B, and C, obesity, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and medications such as statin drugs and some over-the-counter pain medications are also included in the list of the causal factors.
Other causes include diabetes, hemochromatosis (pathology in which iron accumulates in the tissues), toxic hepatitis, heart attack, hypothyroidism, mononucleosis, muscular dystrophy, polymyositis and Wilson's disease (a rare inherited disorder of copper metabolism; copper accumulates in the liver and then in the red blood cells and brain).
Itching and jaundice are the symptoms which may crop up in a person, who is suffering from the condition of elevated liver enzymes. Except these two symptoms, there are none which can be used to diagnose the illness. Therefore, doctors usually go for liver functions tests, in order to determine the severity of the problem. However, coming back to jaundice, it may have other symptoms such as dark or cloudy urine, light stools, and signs of cirrhosis or other diseases. The tests which doctors perform are laboratory blood tests, which also include determining levels of albumin (ALB), alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), direct bilirubin (DBIL), gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) and total bilirubin (TBIL) in the body.
Treatment is basically aimed towards working on the underlying causes. The affected person's age and health are also important, depending on which, the treatment is carried forward. The severity of the illness is something which is an obvious deciding factor for the treatment.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.