Liver function tests (LFTs) are a group of blood tests that are used to evaluate how well your liver is functioning. These tests measure various enzymes, proteins, and other substances that are produced by the liver. LFTs are an important tool in the diagnosis and management of liver diseases and conditions.
Why you should do it:
Your liver is a vital organ that plays a crucial role in your body’s metabolism, digestion, and detoxification. LFTs are a routine part of many physical exams and can help detect liver disease or damage in its early stages. LFTs are also used to monitor the effectiveness of treatments for liver diseases.
When should you test for it:
LFTs may be recommended if you have symptoms of liver disease, such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), abdominal pain, or unexplained weight loss. They may also be ordered if you have a history of liver disease or if you are taking medications that can affect liver function. LFTs are also recommended for people who drink alcohol regularly or have a history of heavy alcohol consumption.
Diseases or conditions associated with it:
LFTs can help diagnose a variety of liver diseases and conditions, including hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and fatty liver disease. LFTs can also detect liver damage caused by alcohol or medications.
When is it abnormal:
Abnormal LFT results can indicate liver disease or damage. The specific tests that are abnormal can provide clues to the underlying cause of the liver problem. For example, elevated levels of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT) are often seen in people with liver damage caused by hepatitis or alcohol use. Elevated levels of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) may indicate blockage of the bile ducts or bone disorders.
What to do if it is abnormal:
If your LFT results are abnormal, your doctor may recommend further testing to determine the underlying cause of the liver problem. Depending on the cause, treatment options may include medication, lifestyle changes (such as avoiding alcohol or losing weight), or in severe cases, liver transplantation. It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations and to take steps to protect your liver health.
In conclusion, LFTs are an important tool in the diagnosis and management of liver diseases and conditions. If you have a history of liver disease, are taking medications that can affect liver function, or have symptoms of liver disease, your doctor may recommend LFTs as part of your routine care. If your LFT results are abnormal, further testing and treatment may be necessary to protect your liver health.