High Enzyme Levels in Liver – Causes, Signs and Treatment

High Enzyme Levels in Liver – Causes, Signs and Treatment

The liver is an organ found in vertebrates only. It is the largest internal organ in a human being. It has the unique power to regenerate itself in the case It gets damaged. The liver is located in the upper part of the abdomen and is protected by the rib cage. It is shaped like a half moon, weighs about 3 pounds and is reddish brown in color.
The liver is responsible for a number of body functions including;

  • Detoxifying the body
  • Helps in the digestion of foods, especially fats
  • Synthesizing proteins used for blood clotting
  • Storing extra sugars as glycogen
  • Breaking down old red blood cells

This article gives you an in-depth understanding of what causes high enzyme levels in liver, the tests to identify high enzyme levels and how to reduce the enzyme levels in your liver.

What Are Liver Enzymes?

To perform its elaborate and necessary functions efficiently, the liver produces enzymes. Liver enzymes are proteins secreted by the liver. Catalyzing chemical reactions is what is the function of enzymes in the liver. However, the enzymes should be at certain levels as too much or too little may be a sign of liver damage.

The liver produces a number of different enzymes for different purposes. Here are the normal enzyme levels in the liver for each produced enzyme;

  • Globulin is about 6.0-8.3 grams/ deciliter
  • Albumin is about 3.4-5.4 grams/ deciliter
  • Bilirubin is about 0.3-1.9 milligrams/ deciliter
  • Gamma-Glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT) is about 0-51 IU/L
  • Prothrombin is essential for blood clotting it’s about 0.8-1.1 international Normalized Ratio(INR)
  • Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH) is about 105-333 IU/L
  • Alkaline Phosphate (ALP) is about 44-147 IU/L
  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) is about 10-40IU/L
  • Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) is about 10-34 IU/L

Liver Function Tests

Liver function tests are blood tests carried out to evaluate various liver functions. To improve your odds of combating liver ailments it is vital to spot diseases early. This is however tricky as even the most severe disorders don’t have clear signs and symptoms in their early stages.

Some enzymes are found in the serum and plasma of blood and act as biomarkers of liver damage. Liver function tests can help detect liver diseases since there are changes in enzyme levels in liver failure. The tests additionally help your healthcare provider to distinguish the liver disorder you have and access the damage it has caused the liver. However, not all liver function tests are for measuring enzyme function.

What Causes High Enzyme Levels in Liver?

When the liver is inflamed or injured it leaks more enzymes into the bloodstream. Elevated liver enzymes can be detected through liver function tests and are a cause for concern. A high level of enzymes doesn’t necessarily mean you have a chronic hepatic ailment but should be followed up with more tests. The following might be the causes why you have high liver enzymes

  • Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is as a result of obesity
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Certain over the counter or prescription drugs
  • Liver cancer
  • Celiac disease

Though they might not be straight forward, there are a few symptoms and signs that are associated with a high level of liver enzymes. If you notice some of these signs, visit your doctor for a liver function test and other tests.

Signs and Symptoms of High Liver Enzymes

i) Have a general lack of appetite
ii) Passing dark-colored urine
iii) Feeling nauseated
iv) Have jaundice. This is a condition where the skin or eyes turn yellow in color
v) Swelling of the feet and ankles
vi)  Pale or bloody stool

How to Lower Enzyme Levels In Liver

There are two main enzymes that are tested in a liver function test, Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) and Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST). There is no specific time frame for bringing liver enzymes down. The time varies from patient to patient and also depending on what is the cause of the liver problem. Your doctor will recommend to you how to lower enzyme levels in the liver if they are found to be high.

High Liver Enzymes Treatment

  • Immediately you should stop taking alcohol.
  • Avoid chemicals and toxins that can elevate the problem. For example cigarettes.
  • Drink lots of fluids especially water and juices rich in vitamin C.
  • Watch your protein intake levels. The liver processes the proteins so more proteins lead to overworking it.
  • Consult your doctor about other over the counter drugs. Some drugs like Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen cause the liver to strain.
  • Eat more cruciferous vegetables like wasabi, broccoli or cauliflower.
  • Avoid harmful foodstuffs including fried or junk food, too much sugar or very salty foods.
  • Herbal remedies like the use of milk thistle or herbal tea are advised.
  • Have enough rest as well as exercise.

Low Liver Enzymes

The subject of low enzyme levels in the liver is still under medical research. Some doctors argue that low liver enzymes are a sign of a healthy liver. Other doctors are of the thought that low liver enzymes are a sign of some minor liver damage. The signs and symptoms are more or less similar to those of high liver enzymes. They can equally be treated and prevented by eating a well-balanced diet and staying well hydrated.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD (Pulmonary Medicine))Pulmonologist