Ever wondered if you could check how your liver functions by yourself? Well, you will find the answers you need here.
To determine the way your liver functions - by knowing whether or not it is as healthy as it should be, certain tests must be carried out. These tests are called liver function tests. They are blood tests, which means blood has to be taken out of your body to get the results. The health condition of your liver is determined by carrying out this liver function test which shows the level of bilirubin, protein and liver enzymes in your blood.
An at-home liver test is not diagnostic but a good beginning point for a discussion with your healthcare provider.
You can think about getting an at-home liver function test to keep track of medication side effects, evaluate a disease's course of therapy, identify symptoms of a liver issue, or check for liver damage from excessive alcohol intake. After the test is carried out, a higher or lower result will exhibit whether or not your liver is normal.
What can liver function tests tell us?
- The Alkaline phosphatase test (ALP test): The alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme which is found in your bile duct, liver and bones. This test is not a stand-alone test as it is performed alongside some other tests. It is mainly used to determine how effective the bile duct of the liver is. The bile ducts are simply pathways or tubes which connect the liver to the small intestine. To digest fat in foods, bile has to pass through from the liver and the gall bladder into the small intestine. Without this occurrence, fats would not be easily digested. This test examines how effective the bile ducts are.
- Aspartate aminotransferase test (AST): This enzyme is located in different parts of the body. It is found in the muscles, liver, brain, heart and even in the pancreas. This aspartate aminotransferase is released into the blood when there is a problem with the liver. When the liver function test is carried out and the aspartate aminotransferase test indicates a high level, it means there is a liver problem.
- Alanine transaminase test: The alanine transaminase is used by the body to break down protein in the body. If there is a problem with the liver, the alanine transaminase is released into the blood. When the result here is high and that of the aspartate aminotransferase is high as well, it is an indication that there is a liver damage.
- Bilirubin: When the red blood cells is broken down, a yellow pigment; bilirubin is made. It is processed by the liver and removed by the body after it has gone through the liver. When the liver has been damaged, bilirubin can no longer be properly processed. With this, there is an increase in the level of bilirubin found in the blood and also in the urine. If the red blood cells in the body are destroyed, it could also lead to an increase in bilirubin.
- Albumin test: There are different tissues in your body, albumin is a protein which makes sure fluids do not leak into the different tissues from the bloodstream. It is also responsible for vitamins, enzymes and even hormones throughout your body. Albumin also makes sure your tissues receive all that they need. The albumin test divulges how well the liver produces this protein. In cases where the albumin level is low, it means there could be a problem with your liver or your kidney. Lower results could be as a result of kidney disease, infections, and poor nutrition.
How to check liver health at home?
Checking your liver function and health at home can be done easily. You can either test yourself by a blood test or urine test.
Before performing the test, you will need to stop taking certain medications, if you are on them. They include – steroids, birth control pills, and diuretics.
Here are possible results from this test and their interpretation
If the test reads “0 mg/dL Bilirubin. There is no bilirubin in your urine, if this is what it reads. This means your liver is functioning optimally. In as much as this is so, it is important to still maintain healthy living.
If you get a moderate reading d the value would be 1 mg/dL ≤ X < 6 mg/dL Bilirubin.
This means there is a low level of bilirubin in your urine but this is much of a problem. It may be as a result of certain medication, drinks or even antibiotics. You may also need to check your diet and make adjustments.
If you get over 6 mg/dL bilirubin this means the bilirubin in your urine is high. This could mean your liver no longer functions as it should. It could also mean certain diseases are present. You would need to make certain adjustments.
There are healthy foods which can help your liver significantly. You may also need to incorporate some lifestyle changes to have a healthy liver. Remember, it is in your best interest to take care of yourself.