What is an amylase test?
An amylase test is a way to measure the amount of amylase in blood or urine (pee). It’s also called an “amy” test, serum amylase and urine amylase.
What is amylase?
Amylase is an enzyme, a type of protein that helps your body break down carbohydrates. The pancreas and salivary glands in your mouth make amylase.
There’s normally a small amount of amylase in your blood and urine. But levels that are too high can indicate a health problem.
When is an amylase test performed?
A healthcare provider might recommend an amylase test to diagnose or monitor:
- Problem with your pancreas, such as pancreatitis, gallstones or pancreatic cancer.
- Alcohol use disorder (alcoholism).
- Cystic fibrosis.
- Eating disorders.
Who performs an amylase test?
For the blood (serum) test, a healthcare provider such as a nurse, doctor or laboratory technician takes a sample of blood. For the urine test, you provide a urine sample to a healthcare provider. Then the blood and/or urine sample is sent to a laboratory for testing.
How do I prepare for an amylase test?
Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions. You may have to fast for eight to 12 hours. That means you shouldn’t eat or drink anything besides water. You may have to avoid alcohol for 24 hours before the test.
Make sure you tell your healthcare provider about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take. Some can affect amylase test results, such as:
- Diuretics (water pills).
- Indomethacin (an NSAID).
- Oral contraceptives (birth control pill).
What should I expect during an amylase blood test?
Collecting blood for an amylase test takes only a few minutes. In an office, clinic or lab, a healthcare provider will:
- Wrap a tight band around your upper arm.
- Clean part of your skin inside the elbow area.
- Insert a needle into that area, which may cause a stinging or pinching feeling.
- Attach a tube to the needle and fill the tube with blood.
- Remove the band and the needle.
- Put pressure on the puncture wound to help stop any bleeding.
- Place a bandage on your skin.
What should I expect during an amylase urine test?
Your healthcare provider may ask you to provide a “clean catch” urine sample in the office. Or they may ask you to collect a series of samples over 24 hours at home. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions.
To collect urine, you should:
- Wash your hands.
- Clean your genital area with a cleansing pad. Men should clean the tip of their penis. Women should clean the folds of skin around their vagina, moving from the front to the back.
- Pee a little bit into the toilet and then stop.
- Put a special cup under the urine stream to catch some pee in the cup. A marking on the cup will show you how much is needed.
- Wash your hands again.
- Return the cup to the healthcare provider.
What should I expect after an amylase test?
After a blood test, keep the bandage on for a few hours. You may also need to avoid exercise for a few hours after a blood test.
There are no specific instructions after a urine test.
What are the risks of an amylase test?
Blood tests are very safe and involve little risk. You may have a small bruise where the needle went into your skin. Rarely, the vein may swell, and warm compresses can help.
There are no known risks with urine tests.
Results and Follow-Up
When should I know the results of the amylase test?
You should get amylase test results in about a day or two, depending on the lab.
What is the normal range for an amylase test?
The normal range for amylase may differ from lab to lab. In a blood sample, the range is about 30 to 110 U/L (units per liter). In a urine sample, the range is 2.6 to 21.2 international units per hour (IU/h).
What does it mean if your amylase is high or low?
If your amylase level is abnormal, it might mean you have a health condition. Your healthcare provider will discuss the results with you and what they mean. They will also consider other factors, such as current symptoms, health history and additional test results.
If your amylase level is high, it might indicate a problem in your pancreas. A low amylase level may suggest a pancreas, liver or kidney problem, or cystic fibrosis.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
An amylase test measures the amount of amylase in blood or urine (pee). An abnormal level of amylase can indicate a health problem, particularly a problem with the pancreas. Your healthcare provider will discuss why you should get the test and what the results mean.
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