The liver is a vital organ in the body that sits in the upper part of the stomach. It is the second largest organ in the body and plays over 500 functions in the body, including:
A liver blood test, formerly called a liver function test (LFT), checks your liver health. The name change resulted from reports that only a liver blood test cannot diagnose or rule out liver disease. This means your liver blood test result can be normal even when you have liver disease. Some people with abnormal liver blood test results do not have liver disease.
A liver blood test can measure the levels of different blood components such as bilirubin, liver enzymes and proteins. The test can check your liver health and identify signs of damage or inflammation.
The following can affect your liver
A liver blood test can help in the following cases
Before a liver blood test, we will review the following.
A liver blood test measures the following proteins
The liver blood test measures these enzymes
This is a yellow pigment produced when red blood cells in the body break down. This waste product has no known function in the body.
The symptoms and signs of liver disorders include:
Ensure you visit a doctor if you experience these symptoms.
You can assess your liver health with a liver blood test at our Clinic. Checking your liver health regularly is important if you:
You may need a liver biopsy or an ultrasound scan if your liver blood test result isn’t within the normal range.
Mild to moderate abnormalities in liver blood test results may indicate;
We advise having a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider if your liver blood test result is abnormal. Your doctor will conduct further investigations to diagnose or rule out liver disease.
Healthcare providers recommend a FibroScan if you drink over 50 units of alcohol weekly or 35 units for men and women, respectively. The FibroScan is a non-invasive medical device that checks for liver scarring (cirrhosis) and liver fibrosis by measuring stiffness in the liver.
A liver blood test measures several health markers to help diagnose different issues. Low or high levels of some enzymes and proteins can indicate a liver problem. Your test result will show the following.
If your kidneys or liver are not working properly, your albumin levels can drop. Kidney inflammation or disease, infection and poor diet can reduce albumin levels.
Normal albumin level is between 35 – 50 g/L.
A wide range of conditions can result in an increase or decrease in globulin levels. Low protein, albumin and globulin can suggest kidney disease, liver disease, malabsorption or malnutrition.
High albumin, protein and globulin levels may indicate an infection, inflammation and dehydration.
In some cases of cirrhosis, albumin levels may become low, with an increase in globulin levels.
The normal globulin level is between 19 – 35 g/L.
Low protein levels may indicate kidney or liver disorder. It can also indicate improper absorption of food, like in coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). High protein levels indicate chronic inflammation, dehydration or infection such as viral hepatitis. It may also indicate HIV or a bone marrow disorder, but these instances are rare.
If cirrhosis occurs, your total protein level may still be normal because as albumin levels fall, globulin rises.
The normal protein levels fall between 63 – 87 g/L.
High ALP levels may indicate bone disease, damage to the gall bladder or liver inflammation. Increased levels may also occur during pregnancy and puberty.
The normal ALP for men and women is below 130IU/L.
ALT is mainly present in the liver, making it a good marker for liver health. Increased ALT levels may indicate liver damage.
The normal range of ALP for men is 15 – 50 IU/L and 10 – 35 IU/L for women.
High levels of GGT can signify liver disease or damage. If you drink excess alcohol for an extended period, GGT levels will increase.
The normal GGT level for men is below 71 IU/L, while below 42 IU/L is normal for women.
High bilirubin levels can indicate liver damage. If you drink excess alcohol and take some medications or your body is destroying more red blood cells than usual (haemolysis), your bilirubin levels will be high.
Sometimes, high bilirubin may result from Gilbert’s syndrome – a harmless inherited disorder. Normal bilirubin level for women is below 15 umol/L and below 24 umol/L for men.
Excess alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol-related fatty liver disease (ARLD) because alcohol increases fat levels in your liver. Research suggests that increased fat may be due to the waste products in alcohol that cause the liver to produce more fatty acids.
If you reduce your alcohol intake or stop drinking, your liver can repair itself. However, if you keep drinking excessively, your liver may become inflamed, and over the years, permanent liver scarring (cirrhosis) may occur, leading to liver failure.
Being obese or overweight can cause fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD). Other risk factors for NAFLD include:
NAFLD can also cause permanent liver damage if left untreated for several years.
Some common drugs, such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) and aspirin or ibuprofen (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), can result in serious liver damage. This may occur from excess intake of these medications at once or high doses over a long period.
Avoid taking these drugs for hangover symptoms until the alcohol clears from your body. It takes your body system about one hour to clear a unit of alcohol. Alcohol interferes with your liver and can result in severe side effects, including death.
Other drugs that can affect the liver are:
Ensure you consult your doctor when taking any medication. If a possible side effect of a medication is liver damage, ensure you have regular liver blood tests.
Your diet significantly affects your liver health. Foods that negatively affect your liver health include:
It takes several years for permanent liver damage to occur, so identifying signs of liver damage early can help you take steps to repair your liver.
You can improve your liver health with the following lifestyle changes:
If you need a liver blood test, visit Private Blood Tests London. You can also call us on 02071830244 to schedule your liver blood test appointment.