The salivary glands and the pancreas both produce the enzyme amylase. Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrate molecules during the process of digestion.
The pancreas produces approximately 40 percent of the amylase found in the human body, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. The salivary glands produce the additional amylase. The amount of amylase in the blood increases when the salivary glands or pancreas becomes inflamed. Potential causes of an elevated amylase level include pancreatitis, perforated peptic ulcer, intestinal blockages, burns, chronic renal insufficiency and alcohol use. Amylase levels may be lower than normal in people who have chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis and liver failure.