Signs of elevated liver enzymes

Written by amy brueggemann
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Liver enzymes--or proteins made by the liver--let you know how your liver is functioning. Since your liver is the organ responsible for storing and regulating blood sugars, processing drugs and toxins, and eliminating fat and waste, it's important for it to remain in good working order. Elevated liver enzymes may signify a serious medical condition, including liver damage. While some people may experience no symptoms, there are signs you do not want to ignore. If you experience signs of elevated liver enzymes, consult a health care professional.

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Jaundice

Often the most obvious sign of elevated liver enzymes is jaundice, or a yellowish colouring. Typically this applies to the skin, the whites of the eyes (sclera) and the mucous membranes of the mouth. Jaundice may cause additional symptoms as well, including abdominal pain, excessive weakness, exhaustion and dark urine.

Itching

Severe, localised itching--called pruritis--may be another sign of elevated liver enzymes. When the liver can no longer process toxins and other substances within the body, they build up. This build-up remains in the blood and skin, causing an uncontrollable itch.

Light Stools

Stools lighter in colour than normal may also be a sign of elevated liver enzymes. This is caused by a blockage of the common bile duct, causing bile to flow through your blood, rather than being released into the intestines. When this happens, a bowel movement may produce clay-coloured stools.

Swelling

Since the liver is responsible for waste management, it's only natural that if something is off, your whole body may feel "off." Specifically, you may experience swollen legs, feet and ankles. You may find yourself gaining "water" easily or suffer from a persistent bloated feeling.

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