The liver protects your body from harmful substances that enter your body through ingestion, breathing or absorption through your skin. Your liver acts as a filtration system to expunge toxins while simultaneously storing important nutrients needed for normal biochemical functions. Liver enzymes are proteins secreted into your bloodstream and when they are elevated it may mean you have an underlying liver dysfunction. The main proteins include alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase and alkaline phosphatase. Elevation of any of these enzymes indicates a specific portion of your liver that may be damaged and medical intervention is warranted to treat the cause.
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Go to the doctor and get a liver function panel to identify the area of injury. A liver panel screens for liver damage and aids in diagnostics for accurate treatment. Signs of potential liver enzyme elevation may include persistent fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal swelling, jaundice and discoloration of urine and stool.
Stop drinking alcoholic beverages immediately. Chronic alcohol use increases your risk of elevated enzymes. A damaged liver does not filter the toxic substance ethanol, the primary active ingredient in alcohol, from your body readily and this can result in extensive liver damage.
Start a low-protein diet. A damaged liver cannot metabolize protein properly. According to Thelma King Thiel, chairwoman and CEO of Hepatitis Foundation International, an education, research and training website for the public and health care professionals, in a damaged liver too much daily protein intake increases hepatic encephalopathy, or confused cognitive states. Animal-based foods are highest in protein. Halve meat portions or replace with plant-based proteins like beans or nuts to limit intake. Do not restrict protein completely and consult your physician before reducing protein consumption.
Avoid over-the-counter medications containing acetaminophen. This ingredient is common in pain relievers but can increase your risk of liver damage until your enzymes are stable.
Manage existing medical complications. Heart disease can cause elevated liver enzymes. Follow your physician's recommendations for diet, lifestyle changes and medications to control problems with your heart.
Lose excess weight. Overweight and obesity contribute to elevated liver enzymes. Work with your physician on changing your diet and incorporating light exercise to help you lose weight safely.