Liver Function Tests: Types, Uses, Procedure

A liver function test is also called liver chemistries. The main objective of this kind of test is to help you know the condition of your liver.

liver function tests

Ever wondered about the condition of your liver? If it is still okay, or does it have an ailment that you do not know? If you have these types of questions, then you should probably take the liver function test. But what is this kind of test?

For starters, a liver function test is also called liver chemistries. The main objective of this kind of test is to help you know the condition of your liver. But how? These tests measure the level of bilirubin, liver enzymes, and proteins in your blood. It is also recommended if you have the following:

  • Medical conditions like anemia, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high triglycerides.
  • Experiences symptoms related to a liver problem
  • Liver disease
  • Other ailments that can have an effect in your liver
  • Liver infections like hepatitis C and B

Want to learn more about this type of test? Read on.

What You Should Know About Liver Function Tests

This type of test will measure the number of enzymes in the liver. It can also check the bile duct system of your liver.

In the event that you have an abnormal result, the medical professional will then require you to have followed up tests. Even a mild elevated result can be considered as abnormal. Do take note that before you take a liver function test, you have consulted with your doctor first.

Also, it is important to know that there are a different kind of liver function tests. Learn more about these below.

Alanine transaminase (ALT) test

ALT is important as it is in charge of metabolizing protein. In case the ALT is damaged, it will be release to your blood. A study from the American College of Gastroenterology said that if you have an ALT more than 25 IU/L (in females) or 33 IU/L (in males), then you are required to have the ALT test.

Aspartate amino transferase (AST) test

AST is an enzyme that is located in the muscles, liver, and heart. This is measured along with ALT to determine if you have liver problems. In case your liver is damaged, AST will be released to your bloodstream. This means that in case the AST test resulted that you have a lot of AST means that you have an ailment in your liver.

For you to know if you have a normal AST level, the result of the test should be 40 IU/L. Children and infants should have a lower level than that.

Albumin test

Albumin is a protein that comes from your liver. It is in charge of:

  • Moving your vitamins, hormones, and other substances in different parts of your body
  • Nourishes the tissues in your body
  • Stops your body fluids from going out of your blood vessels

The main purpose of this test is to see how your albumin is working. If you got a low level of albumin, it means that your liver is not in good shape. Other possible reasons could be kidney disease, inflammation, infection, and poor nutrition. The normal level of the albumin is 3.5 g/dL to 5.0 g/dL.

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) test

ALP is an enzyme that comes from your liver, bile ducts, and bones. In addition, an ALP test is usually conducted with other tests. If you are one of those who is required to take this test, remember that if you have a high ALP level, it means that you have a bone disease, blockage in your bile ducts, or liver inflammation.

However, there are some instances when adolescents and children have above the normal range of ALP.

This can be when their bones are growing. Not only them but also pregnant women.

Bilirubin test

Bilirubin is actually a waste product from your red blood cells. This happens when the red blood cells are broken down and processed in your liver. Afterward, it moves through your liver and then released in your stool.

Take note that a damaged liver cannot process bilirubin. That is why if your liver has problems, then you will have a high level of bilirubin your blood. The normal range of bilirubin should be 0.1 to 1.2 mg/dL. Although there can be cases when the bilirubin levels are high but you do not have a problem with your liver. In this case, it is best that you consult with your doctor to know your condition more.

Why is a liver function test important?

As mentioned, a liver function test determines the status of your liver. This test is also important because the liver is responsible for the following:

  • Maintaining your hormone balances
  • Processing different substances that can be harmful to your body
  • Removes the bacteria in your blood
  • Fights infection
  • Produces bile, enzymes, proteins, and cholesterol
  • Regulates blood blotting
  • Stores vitamins and minerals
  • Converts nutrients from the nutritious food that you eat
  • Removes contaminants that come from your blood

Once the liver fails to function normally, you can become sick. In worst cases, liver problems can be life-threatening. So once you feel that your liver is not okay, you need to take the abovementioned tests immediately.

Liver Function Test Procedure

There are three steps in a liver function test procedure. Know more about these below.

  1. The medical staff cleans your skin to remove microorganisms that may give you the infection.
  2. Then, the nurse will wrap an elastic strap on the cleaned arm. You will notice that this will make your veins visible. Afterward, the medical professional will use a needle to draw a sample from your blood.
  3. Once the sample was complete, the medical staff will put bandage and gauze on the area. The sample is then taken to the laboratory for further testing.

There is nothing to worry about this test. It will not hurt too much as well. You can expect that the result of the test will be given to you within the day. After that, you can ask your doctor to analyze the reading for you to know if you have a liver ailment.

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