Q:

What is pancreatic amylase?

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Quick Answer

The pancreas and the glands that produce saliva also produce amylase, an enzyme that helps the body digest food, notes MedlinePlus. Amylase enters the bloodstream when the pancreas becomes inflamed or is diseased.

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Full Answer

The normal range of amylase in the blood is between 23 and 85 units per liter, though some laboratories use different ranges, and patients should rely on their doctors to advise if their results are abnormal, states MedlinePlus. Doctors may order an amylase test, in which samples of either blood or urine are taken, for patients who have or display the symptoms of acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic pseuodocysts. Medications such as aspirin, birth control pills, opiates and thiazide diuretics may cause false readings on an amylase test.

Cancer of the pancreas, ovaries or lungs, pancreatic or bile duct blockage, gallbladder attacks caused by disease, intestinal blockages, perforated ulcers and tubal pregnancies may cause increased levels of amylase in the blood, states MedlinePlus. Kidney disease, damage to the pancreas, cancer of the pancreas and toxemia of pregnancy are causes of low levels of amylase in the blood. As with other tests that involve blood samples, fainting or feeling light-headed, hematoma, infection and excessive bleeding are possible side effects of an amylase blood test.

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