Nowadays, liver health is a concerning issue among many. So, you would want to keep your liver healthy and avoid various liver diseases. But what if your liver is affected by disease and you are unaware of it? Most liver diseases don't show symptoms in their early stages, and you can notice only in their advanced stages when your liver becomes severely damaged. So, is there no way to detect liver diseases early? Don't worry. That is when liver function tests come to the rescue.

What is a liver function test?

A liver function test is a blood test that is among a group of tests that checks the level of enzymes and proteins produced by the liver in blood. These tests give an idea of your liver's overall health and functioning. These tests will help detect diseases or monitor an already-diagnosed liver disease.

What does it tell?

If you take a liver function test, the results will tell your doctor about your liver. It will keep you informed of whether you have,

  • Liver Inflammation or hepatitis
  • Inflammation is alcohol-related or metabolic
  • Bile duct damage
  • Liver impairment
  • Bile duct impairment
  • Any medications are affecting your liver

These are a few pieces of information your healthcare provider can inform you. If you are found to have the risk of acquiring any disease, you will be asked to take further imaging tests and liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

When is it used?

As mentioned earlier, to test you for potential liver illnesses like hepatitis, your doctor may want to look at these values. If they are already aware of your liver disease, they may inquire about the course of your condition or the beneficial effects of your current medication. A liver test might also be required to track the adverse effects of some drugs that are known to have an impact on the liver.

Common liver function tests

Many liver tests are available, but your doctor will prescribe these are a few standard tests. They are as follows:

  • Alanine transaminase test (ALT test): Alanine transaminase is an enzyme found in your liver that helps break down protein in your liver. High levels of ALT enzyme are said to cause damage to your liver.
  • Alkaline phosphatase test (ALP test): Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme found in your liver, bile duct and bones, and this test is used to assess your bile duct system. High levels of ALP will cause danger to your liver.
  • Aspartate transaminase test (AST test): Aspartate transaminase is found in various parts of your body like the heart, liver, brain, pancreas and liver. AST is a determiner of liver damage because when the liver is damaged, it is released into the bloodstream. So, higher levels of AST indicate damage to your liver.
  • Albumin and total protein test: Albumin and globulin are two primary components of your liver. When these components are low, there are signs of damage or disease in your liver.
  • Bilirubin test: Bilirubin is a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells, which in high quantities cause jaundice and indicate damage to your liver.
  • Prothrombin time (PT) test: This test measures how long your blood can clot. If it takes a longer time, it signs liver damage.

So, these are a few common tests you can undergo to check your liver function.

It is important to keep your liver health in mind, and it is advisable to get medical checkups occasionally to avoid liver diseases or get treatments as early as possible after the diagnosis. Also, your liver needs to follow a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy diet.