As we age, there are some health issues we can expect to arise simply as part of the process of aging. For some patients, the complications may be readily apparent while for others, the aging process may be without symptoms, complaints or concerns.
One area of concern is the health status of the liver. For many aging adults, the liver function may show some irregularity while no symptoms are even apparent. While there are many reasons a liver study may be abnormal, even when symptoms are not present, it is important to follow up with the healthcare professional to determine what, if any, treatment is required.
On your liver profile test, the acronyms ALT and AST signify the production of enzymes in the liver. When elevated, these liver tests often pose a challenge to physicians, especially when no symptoms are present.
While these elevated ALT and AST liver tests may indicate a complication associated with alcoholism, hepatitis, cirrhosis, Wilson’s disease and even thyroid disorders, there are some patients who simply encounter higher ALT and AST liver tests for reasons unrelated to these conditions.
Abnormal ALT and AST liver tests can be attributed to chronic use of medications such as Tylenol, Dilantin, Desyrel, Heparin and even Diflucan. In some cases, use of herbal supplements may also attribute to abnormal liver studies. Herbal supplements such as ephedra, vitamin A, kava and even germander are just a few that may result in higher liver enzyme tests.
To ascertain the exact cause of your liver enzyme abnormality, your health care professional will most likely recommend that you abstain from using all herbal supplements, discontinue use of any alcohol products and maintain, or obtain, control over diabetes or high cholesterol. Once these factors are regulated, liver enzyme testing can be repeated. When repeat testing shows the liver enzymes continue to be high, then further evaluation into liver disorder must be addressed through more extensive testing.
A with any complication involving abnormal blood work on physical examination, it is important to follow up with your healthcare professional even if you do not suffer from any symptoms. In the case of abnormally high ALT and AST liver enzyme tests, making simple modifications to your diet and lifestyle may provide for a return to balance. However, when these changes do not prove effective at returning the ALT and AST levels back to normal, it may be necessary to obtain further evaluation into a possible liver disorder.