The liver oversees regulating the chemicals in the blood and excreting bile in the human body. Bile facilitates digestion by breaking down lipids into fatty acids. The liver also produces proteins and removes bilirubin. Bilirubin is a byproduct of blood.
Why is the liver important?
The liver is responsible for the following functions:
- As previously mentioned, it is responsible to produce bile which helps in carrying the waste and breaking down the fats in the small intestine during the process of digestion
- Protein production for blood plasma
- It converts excess glucose into glycogen which is then used for storage
- Regulating the blood levels of amino acids
The above-mentioned points are some functions of the liver. There is a lot more to what the liver does.
What is an LFT test?
A Liver Functioning Test is done to understand if the liver is functioning properly in the human body. LFT test is done to measure the enzymes that the liver releases whenever there is any sort of damage.
Why is it done?
A Liver Functioning Test is done for the following reasons:
- It is a common screening test done to test for diseases like Hepatitis which is a common liver infection found in humans.
- It is done to monitor the progress of a disease, and to understand whether the treatment is working or not.
- In some cases, it is done to determine the severity of the disease.
- If a person has been prescribed some medications, this test is done to check for any side effects of the medications.
What are some common symptoms found in individuals?
You should consider getting a Liver Functioning Test if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue for a prolonged duration
- Itchy skin
- Dark-colored urine
- Abdominal pains
You should consider getting a Liver Functioning Test if you:
- Consume excessive amounts of alcohol. This is because excess alcohol consumption can directly affect the liver.
- Have a family history of liver diseases
- Are obese and have blood pressure and diabetes
- Consume medications that affect your liver
Types of Liver Functioning Tests:
- ALT test: ALT stands for Alanine Transaminase test. ALT is used to break down proteins into energy which can be used by cells in the liver. ALT is released into the human body whenever there is any damage found. If the LFT test results in high values for this test, it indicates damage to the liver.
- AST Test: AST stands for Aspartate Transaminase test. AST is an enzyme commonly found in the body. If your blood levels are high, then it indicates damage.
- ALP Test: ALP stands for Alkaline Phosphatase test. It is an enzyme that is responsible for breaking down the proteins found in the body. This test can help determine if the bile duct system is functioning properly or not.
- Albumin test: Albumin is an important protein made by the liver. Low blood levels are indicative of damage.
- Bilirubin test: Bilirubin is responsible for breaking down red blood cells. If you have high blood levels, it is indicative of jaundice.
How does a Liver Functioning Test work?
During an LFT test, a small amount of blood is drawn from the body (near the elbow) as a sample. You might find a small prick when the health professional inserts the needle into the identified area.
How do I prepare for a Liver Functioning Test?
There aren’t a lot of measures you need to take before you appear for an LFT Test. However, do inform your doctor of the medications you are currently undertaking. The doctor may advise you to stop the medications until you are done with the LFT Test.
The Liver Functioning Test results normally result in normal numbers as values depending on the type of test. However, the combined values of all the tests done can result in patterns that are indicative of damage or liver diseases.
If the test result values are abnormal, then further testing is required to understand the underlying reasons for the abnormal values. Once you obtain your results, you must discuss your results with your doctor to take a further course of action.
What do I need to do next?
You can resume your normal day-to-day activities. If you feel lightheaded after the tests, it is recommended that you take some rest before you leave. If you are someone who drinks alcohol heavily, your doctor may advise you to stop doing so. If the test results show abnormal values or signs of other diseases, then the doctor may advise you to undergo other tests.
A Liver Functioning Test is indicative of a lot of useful information. Most importantly, it lets you know if you have any damage or any liver-related diseases. You must take necessary action to take care of your liver to ensure there are no diseases in the future.