What causes elevated liver enzymes?

Certain diseases or situations can cause a rise in liver enzymes, including:

  • Hepatitis (inflammation, or swelling, of the liver).
  • Fatty liver disease (a buildup of certain fats in the liver).
  • Metabolic syndrome (a collection of heart disease risk factors that increase the chance of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes).
  • Cirrhosis (the liver tissue is filled with scar tissue).
  • Drug abuse.

What are the signs and symptoms of elevated liver enzymes?

Elevated liver enzymes usually have no signs or symptoms on their own. The doctor may check for elevated liver enzymes in patients who might have hepatitis. The symptoms of hepatitis include:

  • Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes caused by liver problems).
  • Pain or swelling in the abdomen.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Dark urine.
  • Pale-colored stools.
  • Weakness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Poor appetite.

The doctor may also order a liver enzyme test for patients who:

  • Drink a great deal of alcohol or abuse drugs.
  • Have a family history of liver disease.
  • Are overweight.
  • Have diabetes.

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