Liver is one of the most important organs of the body, when it comes to metabolizing. It is responsible for the removal of all toxins from the body, including pollutants, medications, alcohol and all other. It also regulates the level of glucose in the blood, and metabolizes fat and cholesterol from the food we took.
The liver produces two enzymes, which are ALT (Alanine Transaminase) and AST (Aspartate Transaminase). When there is a problem with the liver cells (usually inflammation or some form of damage), they start to produce more liver enzymes than normal. That condition is often referred to as transaminitis or elevated transaminases, since ALT levels are usually higher than AST level in liver diseases. The exception from this rule is alcoholic liver disease, because patients suffering from this condition experience higher AST than ALT levels. The elevation of liver enzymes is in most cases a transient symptom, and doesn’t point to any chronic or major liver condition.
What Causes Elevation of Liver Enzymes
In most cases elevated liver enzymes are caused by problems in the functioning of the liver. Sometimes, it might be some other medical condition in the body, such as diabetes, gallstones or autoimmune disorders. There are medications whose side effects may include elevation of liver enzymes, and people abusing alcohol are also found to have similar problems.
What Are the Symptoms and Treatment?
Patients experiencing elevation of AST or ALT are most likely to see some yellowing of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes in the mouth, as the signs of jaundice. This condition is often connected to tiredness, abdominal pains, weakness and changed color of urine. Blockage of the bile duct, caused by the elevation of liver enzymes usually lead to light colored stools.
Itching is also one of the common symptoms, frequent in people with elevated liver enzymes. Toxins start to buildup in the skin and the blood and provoke this type of sensation.
Swelling of the feet, ankles and legs very often indicate high elevation of AST and ALT.
First of all the condition must be properly diagnosed, and liver function tests are very helpful. After that, your doctor might recommend some further testing to identify the exact cause of your condition. Ultrasound, X-rays and CT scan are some of the most frequently used tests.
The treatment depends on the cause of the problem. People abusing alcohol are advised to reduce or stop drinking, and if the problem was caused by some medications, the drug(s) is changed with another.