Liver enzymes or liver proteins speed up the chemical reactions in the body. They clot the blood, produce bile, and break down food and toxins within the liver. But if these liver enzymes are elevated in the bloodstream for a long time then you have a medical condition.
Elevated liver enzymes might be a sign that the liver isn’t functioning properly. A damaged liver might start releasing these enzymes into the bloodstream which then gets detected in a blood test.
Causes Of Elevated Liver Enzymes
If your liver is injured it releases enzymes into the bloodstream. A liver function test is used to diagnose elevated liver enzymes. Fatty liver disease both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, cholesterol-lowering drugs, hepatitis disease, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, thyroid disease, etc. all lead to elevated enzyme levels.
The symptoms of elevated liver enzymes include abdominal pain, dark urine, fatigue, itching, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting, and in extreme cases, jaundice may occur.
How To Treat Elevated Liver Enzymes?
When a doctor runs a blood test and finds out that the patient has raised levels of liver enzymes then it may be a cause for concern. Usually, AST (aspartate transaminase) or ALT (alanine transaminase) enzyme can be elevated. As long as the enzyme levels are elevated temporarily and it goes to normal which happens with 3 out of 10 patients then there is no cause for concern. But if this persists then your doctor will run some more tests to confirm the diagnosis and start the treatment.
So, the treatment usually focuses on managing the cause behind the elevated enzymes. In case it is fatty liver then the doctor may advise some lifestyle changes such as eating a well-balanced meal, exercising more, and if the fatty liver is induced by alcohol then quitting it completely would be the solution. For hepatitis the doctor will advise bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding alcohol.
There are certain practices that can be followed at home to decrease the enzyme levels, which can work well with the treatment your doctor has prescribed. Drinking coffee has known to decrease the ALT levels in the bloodstream. Black coffee without any sugar or cream/milk has a good effect on the liver as coffee has antioxidants that help protect the liver.
One must exercise regularly. Exercise is known to prevent so many diseases and alleviate the symptoms of many more. Exercise is the most understated and beneficial program out there. Our bodies are meant to be exercised and it is a huge benefit to the overall health.
Losing the excess weight naturally through exercise helps a lot in bringing down the enzyme levels. It is a crucial factor in treating fatty liver disease and preventing liver fibrosis.
Increasing the consumption of folic acid. Folate deficiency increases the risk of liver damage. Taking supplements of folic acid also reduces the ALT levels in the bloodstream. Including fiber and consuming whole grains improves liver health automatically leading to a decrease in the levels of liver enzymes. Switching from animal protein to plant protein also had the same effect.
Reducing cholesterol not only protects your heart but also helps in decreasing the liver enzymes in the blood. Avoiding trans fats and reducing meat intake help improve liver health and reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
Quit smoking and drinking completely. Alcohol is known to damage the liver causing various ailments like fatty liver disease and automatically increasing the liver enzymes in the blood. Smoking and second-hand smoking also damage the liver and should be avoided completely.
So, it can be concluded that good practices, certain lifestyle choices can help in treating the elevated liver enzymes better. Only when the liver is damaged or stressed does it release these enzymes into the bloodstream.
If these levels stay elevated and are not temporary then it is a cause for concern and it usually means that there is an underlying medical condition. Having a good lifestyle will prevent this from happening in the first place but if you are already diagnosed with elevated liver enzymes then making certain lifestyle choices and eating healthy can go a long way and help in faster recovery.