If you're like most people, you probably don't think about your liver all that often. But the truth is, your liver is one of the most important organs in your body, and it's responsible for filtering toxins from your blood and helping metabolize food and store energy.
The liver is a vital organ of the body and has important functions such as:
- Helping to break food down
- Cleansing the blood
- Getting rid of waste
- Producing proteins
- Storing energy.
If your liver develops a problem, it could manifest as a number of symptoms like
- Chronic fatigue/weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disorders
So if you're interested in maintaining optimal health, it's important to make sure that your liver is functioning properly.
One way to do this is by testing your liver function. There are a few different ways to do this, and in this blog, we'll outline the most common methods. We'll also discuss some factors that can affect liver function and provide tips for keeping your liver healthy. So if you're ready to learn more about how to test liver function, keep reading!
How to know if your liver is healthy?
A healthy liver is important, and an unhealthy liver may reflect in the liver enzyme levels. Liver enzymes are produced mostly in the liver and the elevation of enzymes in the blood usually indicates some liver injury, damage, or disease. This is because, during an injury, these liver enzymes get released into the blood.
To know if your liver is healthy, you will need to carry out a normal liver function test. A liver function test is a test used to check enzyme levels along with other proteins in the blood.
This test looks out for the liver enzyme levels, and there are other liver tests that check that the liver is working as it should.
- Swelling and abdominal pain
- Rapid weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Indigestion, and diarrhea
- Slurred speech
- Light-colored poop
- Dark urine
If you notice any of these symptoms, then you should consult your doctor immediatly it could be an indication that you need to test your liver functions.
Why is a Liver Function Test Important?
A liver function test is carried out to check for liver disease or monitor liver function, especially if you fall into the following categories:
- Suffer from a disorder of alcohol use or are a heavy alcohol drinker
- Your family has a history of liver disease
- Take regular medications that may be unhealthy for your liver
- Are diabetic
- Have a high blood pressure
- Suffering from anemia or a gallbladder disease
- If you use medications that may affect the liver
- If you have liver disease, the treatment needs to be monitored.
With the normal liver function test, your physician knows whether you have liver disease or if your treatments are working.
What Tests Check Liver Function?
There are several types of liver function tests carried out to measure how healthy your livers are. They include:
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) test
Alanine aminotransferase is an enzyme that helps in protein breakdown. It is found majorly in the liver and high levels of this enzyme may be an indicator that your liver is damaged.
Albumin/total protein test
Globulin and Albumin are two main proteins produced by the liver. When the levels of these proteins are diminished, it could be an indicator that your liver is damaged.
Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme located in your bones, your liver, and your bile ducts. High levels of ALP could be an indication of bone disease, blocked bile duct, or liver.
When red blood cells are broken down, bilirubin is produced. The liver is usually responsible for cleaning bilirubin from your body, so if there are high bilirubin levels still in your blood (cause of jaundice), your liver may be damaged.
Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) test
This is also a liver enzyme and high levels in the blood could also signify that there’s a problem with the liver. However, the liver is not the only place AST is found, it can also be found in the muscle tissue, liver, brain, pancreas, and heart.
Preparing for a Liver Function Test
- Before your liver function test, let your doctor know if you are taking any medications. Don’t leave out things like herbsor over-the-counter supplements. Your doctor may ask them before the test.
- You might need to skip dinner the night before the liver function test.
- Usually, your doctor should give you some guidelines about preparing for a liver function test. You can also ask questions.
- Drink enough fluids while you prepare for the test.
- On the day of the test, make sure that whatever you wear makes it easy for the expert to retrieve your blood sample.
Liver Function Test Results and How to Interpret Them
The results and interpretation will depend on your gender, and the particular lab you’re testing with because the liver function test normal range may vary.
This is because a liver test is not enough to figure out what might be wrong. Usually, after a liver function test, you should talk with your doctor as he explains his observations from the test.
However, here are a few clues:
- Normal blood test results for typical liver function tests for ALT levels are 7 to 55 units per liter (U/L). If there is an abnormality in your tests, check in with your health professional.
- The normal albumin level ranges from 35 -50 g/L. If there is an abnormality in your tests, check in with your health professional.
- Normal bilirubin levels range from 0.1 -to 1.2 mg/dL. If there is an abnormality in your tests, check in with your health professional.
Did you ever had a liver function test? How was your experience? Comment below!