What Are the Causes of Elevated Liver Enzymes Levels?


Quick Answer

The most common causes of elevated liver enzymes are certain prescription medications, including statins; alcohol consumption; heart failure; hepatitis A, B and C; and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to Mayo Clinic. Obesity and over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen can also cause enzyme elevation.

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Full Answer

A liver function panel usually includes the analysis of three liver enzymes: Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP), Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) and Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT), states WebMD. Inflamed or injured liver cells leak higher than normal amounts of enzymes into the blood stream. High ALP levels can indicate bone disease, hyperparathyroidism, vitamin D deficiency or damaged liver cells. Increased levels of AST can indicate tissue damage in organs such as the heart or liver, with higher levels indicating severe damage. Most increases in ALT levels are due to liver damage from cirrhosis and hepatitis caused by drugs, viruses or alcohol.

Other reasons for elevated liver enzymes include liver inflammation caused by drinking alcohol, celiac disease, gallbladder and pancreas inflammation, Epstein-Barr virus and mononucleosis. Symptoms that may cause a doctor to order a liver panel include fever, vomiting, jaundice, dark urine and abdominal pain, states WebMD. The test is also indicated in cases of exposure to a hepatitis virus.

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