What is the meaning of high liver enzymes?


Quick Answer

High liver enzymes can indicate damage to liver cells or inflammation. The damaged cells leak elevated amounts of liver enzymes into the bloodstream, states Mayo Clinic. Typically, enzymes are elevated for just a short period of time.

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Full Answer

Elevated liver enzymes are not usually a result of a serious or chronic condition. Liver cells can become damaged for a number of reasons, which is why they release excessive enzymes in the bloodstream. Doctors usually notice a high level of liver enzymes when they look at the result of a routine blood test, according to Mayo Clinic. For the most part, the liver cells return to their normal function soon enough. In rare cases, the elevated liver enzymes remain in the blood and indicate a more serious issue.

All three hepatitis viruses, A, B and C, contribute to an elevated liver enzyme count. Additionally, drinking alcohol, being obese and having nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can cause high liver enzymes. In rare cases, the elevated enzyme count indicates liver cancer, celiac disease, mononucleosis or hypothyroidism, notes Mayo Clinic. Since elevated liver enzymes go away on their own, most doctors don’t pursue treatment when they first see the high count in blood. Patients who begin noticing other symptoms related to liver issues should return to the doctor’s office.

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