Common causes of elevated liver test levels include alcohol consumption, obesity, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and heart failure, according to Mayo Clinic. Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can also cause increased liver levels, as can some medications, including certain prescription statin drugs, antibiotics, antifungal medications and over-the-counter pain relievers. Other causes of elevated liver levels include hypothyroidism, celiac disease, pancreatitis, cirrhosis, Epstein-Barr virus and liver cancer.
In most cases, elevated liver enzymes do not indicate a serious liver problem, reports Mayo Clinic. Typically, liver enzymes are only mildly or temporarily elevated. Liver blood tests measure alanine aminotransferase, or ALT, and aspartate aminotransferase, or AST, explains eMedicineHealth. Normal ALT levels range from 7 to 56 units per liter, and normal AST levels range from 10 to 40 units per liter. ALT and AST levels are usually obtained directly from blood samples sent to a laboratory for measurements, with results available within a few days.
Doctors often order liver tests as part of an annual physical, states Mayo Clinic. Patients with mild to moderately elevated levels of ALT and AST should schedule follow-up appointments with their doctor to check for possible underlying causes, advises eMedicineHealth. Additionally, patients suffering from specific disorders may require frequent liver enzyme testing to guide treatment.