Amylase is an enzyme that is predominantly produced by the pancreas (although the enzyme is also produced by the salivatory glands) and can successfully break down the most complex starch and carbohydrates into simpler sugars. Changes of level of amylase in the blood point to the presence of certain medical conditions and they act as significant indicators of what a doctor must do next. There are three types of amylase enzyme in human body: Alpha, Beta and Gamma amylase.
Why is Amylase So Important?
The first thing that makes amylase so important is its effectiveness associated with digestion of food. The process of digestion starts in the mouth where the food is first treated with amylase produced by salivatory glands. Once the food reaches the duodenum the pancreas excretes amylase and the process of starch and carbohydrates breaking down continues and finally allows the simplest sugars to be properly absorbed from the intestine. So it can be said that with proper production of amylase people can obtain proper amount of energy.
Normal Amylase Levels in Blood
The level of amylase in the blood is determined by a simple test. The amount of the enzyme normally ranges between 25 and 160 units/ liter. In case the level is increased it points to the presence of certain pancreas disorders and is also possible in patients suffering from certain kidney disorders while low level of amylase may occur in many different medical conditions.
Increased Amylase Levels
Increased amylase levels are one of the major characteristics of acute pancreatitis, an acute inflammation of the pancreas in which damage to the pancreas tissue allows the excess of amylase to enter the blood. The level of this pancreatic enzyme may be 4-6 times higher than normal and the increase occurs within 12 hours after the onset of inflammation. Furthermore, increased amylase levels in urine point to a complication associated with kidney function.
Low Amylase Levels
One of the most common causes of low amylase levels in the blood is increased intake of carbohydrates. One more cause of reduction in amylase is fat intolerance, a condition that affects some people.
In case one consumes too much carbohydrates the amount of amylase decreases and there are several potential associated problems. For example, the lack of amylase may cause formation of abscesses. This complication occurs due to improper digestion of white blood cells. The abscess in such case contains pus but there are no microbes in it. Furthermore, lack of amylase may be connected with dermatitis, allergic reactions and inflammation. The level of amylase is typically reduced in patients suffering from hepatitis, pancreatic cancers and liver cirrhosis.