Friday, 1 August 2014

Liver Care

Liver function tests are blood tests used to help diagnose and monitor liver disease or damage. The tests measure the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in your blood. Many tests can be performed on the liver, but most of them do not measure the overall function of the liver. The most widely used tests to check liver function are the albumin test and the bilirubin test. These tests measure how well the liver creates albumin, a protein, and disposes of bilirubin, a waste product of the blood.

Some of these tests measure how well the liver is performing its normal functions of producing protein and clearing bilirubin, a blood waste product. Other liver function tests measure enzymes that liver cells release in response to damage or disease. Conditions other than liver disease or damage can lead to abnormal liver function test results. Test results can be normal in people who have liver disease or damage. Albumin is the main protein made by the liver. It performs many important bodily functions. For instance, albumin:
  • stops fluid from leaking out of blood vessels
  • Nourishes tissues
  • Transports hormones, vitamins and other substances throughout the body.
An albumin test measures how well the liver is making this particular protein. A low result on this test indicates that the liver is not functioning properly. Bilirubin, on the other hand, is a waste product ordinarily processed by the liver. This waste product is caused by the breakdown of red blood cells. It passes through the liver before being excreted through your stool. If your liver is damaged, it cannot properly process bilirubin. This will lead to an abnormally high level of bilirubin in the blood. Thus, a high result on the bilirubin test indicates that the liver is not functioning properly.

Liver tests are performed to determine if the liver is working correctly. The liver performs a number of vital bodily functions, such as:
  • removing contaminants from the blood
  • converting the nutrients from the food you eat
  • storing minerals and vitamins
  • regulating blood clotting
  • producing proteins, enzymes, and bile
  • making factors that fight infection
  • removing bacteria from the blood
  • processing substances that could harm the body
  • maintaining hormone balances
Problems with the liver can make a person very sick and can lead to death. Symptoms of a liver disorder include:
  • weakness
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • weight loss
  • jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • symptoms of nephritic syndrome (swelling around the eyes, belly, and legs)
  • discoloured bodily discharge (dark urine or light stools)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal pain
The different liver function tests can check for infection, monitor the progression or treatment of a disease, and test for the side effects of certain medications.

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