The most common causes of elevated liver enzymes include prescription medication, alcohol consumption, hepatitis, fatty liver disease and obesity, according to the Mayo Clinic. In many cases the condition is only temporary and doesn't necessarily indicate a chronic disease, while in others, it may indicate an underlying condition.
A high level of liver enzymes in the blood may indicate inflammation or injury to liver cells, states the Mayo Clinic. When the liver becomes inflamed it leaks a higher level of enzymes into the blood stream which can be detected in routine blood work. High enzyme levels may be an indication of celiac disease, cirrhosis, hypothyroidism, liver cancer or muscular dystrophy.
One of the most common causes of high liver counts is fatty liver disease, often caused by alcoholism, reports MedicineNet.com. If medication or alcohol is the primary cause of elevated enzyme levels, it's possible to normalize the levels by stopping substance use. Losing weight may help those who have high levels due to obesity. If the cause of elevated enzyme counts isn't clear, a doctor may perform additional tests to identify the underlying condition, including additional blood tests, liver ultrasound, a CT scan and a liver biopsy.
It's important to note that high levels of liver enzymes are not indicative of liver function, may not point to liver disease and don't reflect the extent of any particular prognosis, according to MedicineNet.com. Many patients may develop very high enzyme levels even though the liver continues to function normally. Those with high enzyme counts may or may not exhibit any symptoms of liver disease, which include jaundice, fatigue, easy or excessive bruising, water retention and abdominal discomfort.