What does it mean when your liver enzymes are high or elevated? Does it mean you have some liver disease; does it mean you have hepatitis; what exactly is going on with these liver enzymes? In this article we discuss what liver enzymes do, why they might be high, and some of the things you should consider when you get this result in your blood test.
If you want to understand what it means when your liver enzymes are high, keep reading.
What Are Liver Enzymes?
Before we get into what does it mean when liver enzymes are high, we should first discuss what a liver enzyme is. Like all enzymes, liver enzymes help processes move forward in a more efficient way. They act like a catalyst to help a process move forward that otherwise would not move forward without the enzyme. There are three main enzymes that are checked to evaluate liver function, and they are AST, ALT, and GGT. These enzymes are involved with detoxification and typically tested as part of a general screening and physical exam. You may have these enzymes tested on a regular basis with your annual exam. Other times they are tested when you have symptoms that correlate with liver function.
These enzymes carry out some of the most fundamental aspects of what your liver does, detoxify. When they are high it does mean that you have hepatitis. Now hepatitis is really just inflammation of the liver. If you break down the words into it's root, this is clear. 'Hepa' means liver and 'itis' means inflammation, therefore inflammation of the liver. Anytime the liver enzymes are high, that means that you have hepatitis. A lot of times when people hear hepatitis, they automatically think they have some kind of virus. This is not necessarily true.
People can have hepatitis from viruses, from drinking too much alcohol (one night, two nights or on a regular basis), consuming too much Tylenol, etc. There are many many causes or reasons why you can have elevated liver enzymes also known as hepatitis. Anytime you have elevated liver enzymes, you do have hepatitis. Usually it's temporary but not always. That is why it is important to investigate why it there and do follow up labs to determine the cause.
That should give you a better understanding of what it means when liver enzymes are high. If you have questions about the content in this article, please ask it in the comment section below.
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