What Are Liver Tests and How Can They Help You?
Your liver is responsible for processing and producing hundreds of hormones, proteins, and substances every day. It's one of the largest organs in the body and it has amazing regenerative powers. However, you need to test regularly and see the current condition of your liver.
That's why there is a wide array of liver tests to choose from. These tests look at the levels of various substances and hormones in your liver such as ALT, albumin, etc. Such tests can help you discover a liver problem early and begin treatment to avoid complications that could be life-threatening.
What Are the Substances Commonly Checked by Liver Tests?
Different liver tests look at certain substances to detect inflammation or blockage. For example, one of the most commonly tested substances is alanine aminotransferase (ALT). This is an enzyme that can indicate hepatitis if its levels are too high.
Another type of substance is alkaline phosphatase. This enzyme is usually found in high quantities in the bloodstream when the liver has blocked ducts. A simple test for this substance can prevent further liver damage and complications.
Bilirubin is commonly tested to see the level of liver inflammation. When the liver becomes too damaged, the yellow pigment in bilirubin will cause certain body reactions. For example, jaundice is a common liver complication and is represented by the yellowing of the eyes and skin in affected patients.
A comprehensive liver test might also look at the levels of albumin and total protein in the body. Based on these levels, it's possible to determine if the body is capable to fight off infections and prevent further liver damage.
As you probably already know, the liver is responsible for filtering toxins that get inside the body. If your liver is overwhelmed, you are at a high risk of developing a chronic infection or disease. The levels of substances mentioned above provide important clues on how healthy your liver is. That's why you should do a liver test as soon as possible.
What Are the Symptoms of Liver Problems?
Although your liver doesn't actually hurt when it's damaged, you can see other symptoms that indicate liver problems. These symptoms should immediately prompt a doctor's visit and/or a liver test to see how badly your liver is affected.
Let's take a look at a few common symptoms of liver problems:
- Chronic fatigue - do you feel like you don't have enough energy throughout the day? This could be a sign of toxins overloading because your liver can't keep up with filtering them
- Yellow eyes and skin - as mentioned earlier, this is a sign that your bilirubin levels are abnormal and this is usually caused by serious liver toxicity
- Abdominal pain and swelling - this is a common symptom associated with liver problems
- Loss of appetite - if you don't feel like you're hungry, it's probably because your hormonal balances are off and your liver doesn't function properly
- Nausea and vomiting - these symptoms might be caused by a damaged liver which is trying to get rid of various toxic substances in the body
- A tendency to bruise easily - skin that bruises easily is another sign of liver problem. Wounds that take too long to heal might signify liver damage or even diabetes in some patients
Abdominal pain or vomiting sensations might not immediately warranty a liver issue, but these are among the most common symptoms reported by patients with liver problems. Don't ignore these signs and test your liver as soon as possible.
Remember that a liver has amazing regenerative powers. Once your doctor looks at your test results, you can begin treatment and put your liver on a healing path. This will improve your mood, your energy levels, and prevent major liver diseases that could be life-threatening.
What Are the Complications of Liver Damage?
All organs in your body are important and serve various functions. However, the liver is among the most important ones. You simply cannot live without your liver and transplants with this organ are rare and expensive. You need to take really good care of the one you already have.
Luckily, it takes years or decades to develop a major liver complication. You'll definitely see the aforementioned signs of liver damage before that. When complications do occur, they can affect your life. Here are just a few of them:
- Liver fibrosis - when the liver is inflamed and not treated for a long period of time, fibrous tissue will begin to grow. This is also known as scar tissue. Liver fibrosis prevents proper blood flow to the liver and limits the liver's ability to filter toxins
- Liver cirrhosis - when liver fibrosis advances, it can lead to liver cirrhosis. In this case, more scar tissue develops and symptoms such as the ones mentioned above will occur. The level of scar tissue in the liver prevents proper blood flow and some peripheral liver blood vessels might even burst
- Liver cancer - this is a serious liver complication that can be life-threatening. Liver cancer usually develops as a result of untreated liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Having hepatitis B also increases the risk of developing liver cancer
Pick Your Liver Test Today!
Testing your liver is paramount to avoid such dangerous complications. Whether you experience some of the symptoms of liver damage or you just want to keep your liver health in check, pick your liver test from the ones mentioned below.
Some liver tests are specifically designed to check for certain liver substances and hormones. Other liver tests are part of a larger panel that might check the health of other organs such as your kidneys, thyroid, etc.
Once you have picked your test and made the payment, you'll be mailed a form that you can use to draw blood at a nearby clinic. Your blood sample will be analyzed and the results will be sent to you in just a few business days. You can then compare the results against reference values with the help of your doctor and see if you need liver treatment or not.
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