What is the meaning of high liver enzymes?

Have you ever found yourself staring at your blood test results, wondering what in the world high liver enzymes mean? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! In this article, we’ll break down exactly what those pesky high levels could be telling you about your health.

Understanding Liver Enzymes

First things first: let’s talk a little bit about liver enzymes. These are proteins that help to facilitate chemical reactions within your liver. Specifically, when it comes to blood tests, doctors are looking for two kinds of enzymes: alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST).

Without getting too deep into the science-y stuff (who has time for all that?!), having high levels of these enzymes in your bloodstream can be an indication that something isn’t quite right with your liver function.

Causes of Elevated Liver Enzymes

There are a few different things that can lead to elevated ALT and AST levels:

Alcohol Consumption

If you’re someone who enjoys a glass or two of wine every night (raises hand), listen up. Prolonged alcohol consumption can cause inflammation in the liver (which is apparently NOT good). Over time, this inflammation can lead to scarring and compromised liver function – meaning higher enzyme levels on blood tests.

Obesity/Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Another potential cause? Good old-fashioned obesity. When people have excess belly fat (aka my favorite kind), it can contribute to something called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This condition involves the buildup of fat around the organs inside your abdomen – including your poor little liver.


Certain medications may also play a role in causing elevated enzyme levels (because why make anything simple??). Some examples include cholesterol-lowering statin drugs,I swear they give me so many side-effects anti-seizure medications like Dilantin, and even over-the-counter pain killers such as Tylenol (seriously?!).

Viral Hepatitis

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that some forms of hepatitis – specifically types B and C – can cause your liver enzymes to shoot up. These viruses are spread through contact with infected bodily fluids (such as during unprotected sex or via shared needles). If you’re at risk for these conditions, make sure to get tested regularly.

How High is “High”?

Okay, okay – we’ve talked a lot about WHAT high liver enzyme levels mean. But what exactly counts as “high”? The answer: it depends. Different laboratories may have slightly different reference ranges for what constitutes elevated ALT and AST levels.

However,prepare yourself typically the upper limit of normal for ALT is around 50-60 units per liter (U/L) in men; anything above this range is considered elevated/high (greaaaat). For women, the cutoff tends to be a bit lower at 40 U/L.

Meanwhile,I’m sitting here hoping I don’t see my own name under any of these results, the upper limit of normal for AST usually sits somewhere between 35-45 U/L in both genders.

Of course,just to keep things interesting, there are exceptions to every rule! Some people who have chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis might not show extremely high enzyme levels on blood tests despite having significant liver damage (insert eye roll emoji here).


Here’s where things start to get a little frustrating: oftentimes, having high liver enzymes won’t actually produce any noticeable signs or symptoms (fantastic news…not). In other cases,because why would we keep things simple??, you might experience vague symptoms such as fatigue, nausea or abdominal discomfort without being able to pinpoint the exact cause.

However, if your enzyme levels are through the roof due to a specific condition such as hepatitis or liver disease, you may notice more severe symptoms – such as yellowing of the skin (aka jaundice), dark urine, and even mental confusion.

Testing and Diagnosis

If you’re concerned about high liver enzymes (or if it’s just another thing for you to hyperventilate over), don’t despair! There are ways to rule out serious conditions and get to the bottom of what’s causing those elevated numbers.

Your doctor will likely start by repeating blood tests a few weeks later. If the results continue to show higher-than-normal enzyme levels,cue intense anxiety, they’ll likely move on to other tests – such as imaging scans like ultrasounds or MRIs that can give them a closer look at your liver tissue.

In some cases,can’t it just be easy for once?, a biopsy (where a small piece of your liver is removed) might also be necessary in order for doctors to make an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment Options

“But wait!” you might be thinking… “Can anything even BE done about high liver enzymes?” The answer is drumroll please yes!

Of course, the ideal treatment plan will depend entirely on why your enzyme levels are high in the first place (there goes my hopes for one-size-fits-all). Here are some potential options:

Changes in Lifestyle

If alcohol consumption or obesity seem to be contributing factors,to introduce a lifestyle change may help bring down ALT/AST levels naturally. Cutting back on drinking habits should not only help protect your poor little liver but should also lower overall inflammation throughout your body. Similarly focusing on getting rid of belly fat via healthier choices regarding diet(NOOO not broccoli again?!)and exercise habits could also have positive impacts on reducing abnormal lab reports.

Medication Adjustments

In some situations where medications are the root of high enzyme levels, adjusting medication dosage or using a substitute can be considered. (Thank you modern medicine!)

Treatment for Underlying Diseases

When high liver enzymes are caused by viral hepatitis or an autoimmune condition like Lupus (Autoimmunity rearing its infuriating head yet again…when will it end?) treating that specific disease in all likelihood will improve your lab results.

### Surgery
In Strenuous cases such as advanced cirrhosis -surgery through transplantation could significantly benefit.(finally a comprehensive and satisfactory treatment!!!!!).


Now that we know some of the factors contributing to elevated liver enzyme levels, how can we AVOID them altogether?

Moderation is Key

For one thing,Moderate drinking habits– abstain from overconsumption .While enjoying occasional drinks is fine – But exceeding limits may certainly take toll on body’s delicate filtration system.

Watch Your Weight.

Another potential prevention argument would involve preventing obesity altogether,either;by taking steps in childhood towards improvement like eating nutritious meals and engaging more frequently in outdoor activities-(Bye-Bye X-box),or constantly staying on top of physical exercise routines (including incorporating cardio workouts,straightforward muscle training plans & Pilates yoga sessions).

Stay Hydrated.

Furthermore,it’d be wise not only to maintain good daily water intake hygienic practices but also avoid sharing skincare products,tattoo parlours,piercing equipment involving blood since these seem to increase chances against contracting hepatitides let alone many other contagious diseases due lack tidiness.


There you have it folks: everything you ever wanted to know about high liver enzymes (and probably much more!) While having elevated ALT/AST levels might sound scary (because honestly, who wants anything abnormal happening inside their own system?), there are plenty of ways to manage this issue appropriately. So keep track of your lab reports and follow-up with your care providers,practice healthier habits (especially concerning what’s eaten (not hating but really broccoli ’again’, sigh)), stay vigilant in matters regarding the potential for bodily infections by keeping future risk assessments to minimum possible. All efforts lead towards a more optimized-health status which is both practical and worth its every bit of investment i.e., concentrating on overall personal well-being is SHREWDNESS IN ACTION!.

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