What is considered high liver enzymes?

The liver, one of our most vital organs, performs several critical functions in our body. One such job is to produce enzymes that help aid digestion and eliminate toxins from our system. These enzymes usually remain at low levels; however, sometimes they can shoot up out of nowhere – this can be a sign of an underlying health problem. In this article, we will attempt to clear up what high liver enzyme levels mean.

So What Exactly Are Liver Enzymes?

Liver enzymes refer to the high level of proteins produced by cells in your liver known as hepatocytes – not hobbits! There are numerous types of liver enzyme tests that doctors carry out but typically they examine your blood for three specific ones: alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). When these numbers deviate from their normal count then it denotes something wonky’s going on with your hepatic team.

Well That’s just Ducky – But What Do They Actually DO?

Let’s break it down:

  1. Alanine Transaminase aka ALT: This little beauty helps turn food into energy so if you have elevated levels essentially shows that your liver’s working overtime.
  2. Aspartate Aminotransferase aka AST: Equally important! Helps convert food into energy too!
  3. Alkaline Phosphatase: Generally a measure for bone issues or obstructions within the biliary tract (or gall ducts)

That said- scratch all those fancy words because my next question is…

Okay Stop Boring Me With Science Talk…What Does Elevated Mean Specifically?!

Yes yes we hear you loud and clear Queen Bea – let us answer!

There isn’t actually anything standard about typical ranges as many factors could come into play affecting them like age or gender or what songs you do karaoke to. Typically there’s a lab reference range but here’s how you might interpret them:

  • ALT: higher than 55 U/L for men, or greater than 45 U/L females
  • AST: levels over 34 units/mL for women and over – wait for it – about 30 – a whopping extra four mL equally raise alarms bells in guys
  • Alkaline Phosphatase normal is usually around 20 and can be up to twice that level depending on gender

It’s crucial at this point to note that liver enzyme assessment should never be your only source of diagnosis as things like genetics or immune disorders could seriously affect what the ‘other’ relevant numbers could say.

What Causes Elevated Enzyme Levels?

So let’s dive headfirst into some possible reasons behind elevated liver enzymes shall we? Here are six of our favorite candidates:


While everybody needs an amazing drinking game every now and then (except us robots), too much can take its toll. Booze lovers beware, because excess alcohol consumption leads directly to raising blood hepatic team values.


If all those burgers caught up with you, I wouldn’t be surprised! Fatty Liver is always lurking; when weight puts pressure on your vital organs, the metabolic activity within changes. BAM higher enzymes!


Certain medications such as antidepressants , Tylenol-namely acetaminophen-, illicit drugs (and by illicit we mostly mean cocaine) can do bad things once ingested-altogether contributing towards increasing these nasty little fellas

Viral Infections

When unwanted guests enter our system without telling us first they come gunning down specifically @ these poor babies.. People who carry hepatitis B & C ⬆️ their chances of experiencing raised diagnostic test numbers severely thanks to viral infections attacking similar cell types

### Gallstones / Pancreatitis

If oil for your pancreas is one of your regular staples when cooking…it might not be time to change careers but if you simultaneously are experiencing severe pain in the upper-right quadrant-abnormally high blood results- It’s strongly possible that gallstones could be behind this


Yes sister. Sometimes things we inherit go beyond jean sizes or our opinionated thoughts on politicians – sry fam! Whether hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease or alpha-one anti-trypsin deficiency – these guys can ALSO contribute towards increased levels.


Indicators linked with elevated hepatic team numbers have absolutely no relation to the actual underlying condition responsible for it; causing signs typically emerge once liver damage becomes genuinely advanced. Some recurrent symptoms will occur:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Yellowing skin around eyes (jaundice)
  • Dark urine and yellow-ish stools
    Experiencing any of these combined together? Seek medical attention just in case.


Regardless by which means raised diagnostic test results were noted, additional tests will probably required like MRIs/ultrasounds..blood draws etc…Iron Studies too!

Additional investigations necessary may include a few common ones here: CBC w/ difyopenia (looking at blood cell counts and their histology), Ferritin levels (indicate how much iron stores your bod has) OR TSH levels as well as Anti-thyroid/Peroxidase antibodies whch determine autoimmune disorders often involving cross reactions against normal hepatocytes & thereby raising enzyme tests indirectly.

Hepatic biopsy might provide conclusive evidence about prevailing conditions manifesting such anomalies within corresponding assays being deemed significant unless further lab experiments indicate alternate interpretations than previously surfacing possibilities depicted from current patient evaluation patterns so far examined throughout the prior screening phases leading up now unto biobsies themselves


The treatment process depends on identifying what specifically caused said elevations initially; all options proposed will depend heavily on it e.g lifestyle modifications, medications or even possible surgical intervention.

Ultimately, whether large numbers reflect a so-called triggered acute event (i.e. severe alcoholic cirrhosis); or represent potential chronic disease processes developing throughout significant periods -high levels add an additional factor to expand veritable clinical possibilities with having quicker validation for diagnoses under more immediate circumstances.


What are liver enzymes? Why do they elevate and what can it all mean? While we’ve managed to clarify things in simpler terms, it’s crucial always to seek medical attention if you aren’t feeling well because these elevations may signify other serious conditions.

So much of liver enzyme deviations’ succeeding treatments rely chiefly on early identification & fast response strategies as underlying health complications could compound rapidly when untreated; It’s tragic that up until this point we never truly understood what the high hepatic gang actually meant anyway! Nevertheless knowledge is power, now go forth and impress your mother-in-law with this useless knowledge which leaves room then for questions like “Do bats really wait their turn before feedings?” stay curious people!