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Scarey Liver Enzyme Readings

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When I went for my yearly physical in June of 2011, part of it was a blood test. I went back to my Doctor for the blood test results two weeks later and she was NOT happy with my Liver Enzyme readings. They were higher than she was comfortable with and my iron was WAY HIGH! I was taking One-A-Day vitamins for women and had bought the one with iron by mistake. I stopped taking that and went back for another blood test a couple of months later. The iron problem was corrected, but the other enzymes were still high. I started drinking a Detox Tea and also the juice of a lemon in my tea or water daily. In May of 2012, I had the blood test repeated and the enzymes were still up. My Dr. was leaving for another job and I saw a new Dr. in July of 2012. Once again, the liver enzymes were high and this time, the new Dr. sent me to a Gastroenterologist. This appointment was yesterday. I should also mention, that I had an ultrasound of my liver and there weren't any signs of possible growths or masses. This was a relief, but not a "For Sure" that cancer was not a possibility.
The Gastroenterologist looked over all of my previous test results and did a complete history of other medical conditions. Then she asked me how much alcohol I consumed. My family doctors had asked the same question. This is because cirrhosis is the most common liver problem and is usually caused by too much alcohol consumption. I told her that I do have wine or a lite beer every so often (maybe once/week or every other week). This is definitely NOT problem-drinking. This ruled out alcohol as the cause. Then she told me about Fatty Liver Disease. I have been over weight for the past 30 years. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease was rarely diagnosed before 1980. But today, NAFLD is believed to affect as many as 30% of adult Americans. NAFLD is not a single disease. It's a spectrum of disorders, all marked by the accumulation of fat inside liver cells. Under the microscope, this fatty buildup looks just like alcohol-induced fatty liver disease, but it occurs in people who consume little or no alcohol.
NAFLD usually causes no symptoms and few, if any, complications. However, some with NAFLD go on to develop serious problems. The exact cause is unknown. Its emergence as a recognized and increasingly common disorder coincides with the epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Both are associated with insulin resistance.
Obesity and insulin resistance, in turn, are implicated in "Metabolic Syndrome," a group of risk factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including a large waist and high triglycerides (a type of blood fat). Some experts consider NAFLD a symptom of metabolic syndrome.
The leading theory about NAFLD is that it's a result of metabolic changes driven by insulin resistance. More fat stays in the liver, accumulating in tiny sacs in the liver cells.
In its simplest form, NAFLD is just fat in the liver cells. This condition is called steatosis. While steatosis is not normal, it causes no symptoms and by itself is usually harmless. However, 5% to 20% of people with steatosis will develop a more serious form of NAFLD called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH. In NASH, the fattened cells cause inflammation, swelling and cell death.
NASH is usually a relatively stable condition with few symptoms. Most people don't know they have it unless it shows up during a blood test or imaging procedure performed for other reasons. But unlike steatosis, NASH is not harmless.
In some, it progresses slowly, over the years to decades, sometimes causing vague complaints, such as fatigue, discomfort in the upper right abdomen or a sense of being unwell. Underlying these complaints may be a cascade of serious damage to the liver that culminates in massive scarring and impaired liver function called cirrhosis, the most advanced stage of NAFLD. Cirrhosis is irreversible and can lead to liver failure or cancer.
NASH is most closely associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidemia (high blood levels of triglycerides or cholesterol)---conditions that, along with hypertension, constitute metabolic syndrome.
But not everyone with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and abnormal lipids has NASH. And some people with NASH have none of these risk factors. This suggests that genes and other factors play a role.
There's no cure for fatty liver disease or NASH. Treatment is aimed at reducing or preventing further fatty buildup and addressing underlying risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidemia.
Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and a healthy diet can help. You may also want to talk to your doctor about medications to lower blood sugar and cholesterol and vitamin E supplements.
People with NASH should not drink at all. And people with simple fatty liver---that is, steatosis---should at least minimize their alcohol comsumption.
It makes sense to avoid exposure to other liver toxins and to get immunizations against hepatitis B and A. But the most important measure of all is SLOW, STEADY WEIGHT LOSS---and that requires a balanced, calorie-restricted diet along with regular exercise. It's another example of how lifestyle choices improve health.

According to the Gastroenterologist, my readings are NOT high enough to be scared. They will be monitored on a monthly basis. When they start to go down, they will be monitored less often. I am to lose weight and exercise and drink in moderation (I am already on that road). And, because I am on a pain medication that is also an anti-inflammatory, I am to take that ONLY AS NEEDED. N-SAIDS and Tylenol and CELEBREX, etc. are all very hard on our livers. I hope that this informations helps some of you and maybe answers some questions.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you for all the useful information. Your story is verysimilar to mine. Just got my diagnosis this past week. going to be seeing a dietician to see what I have to do.
    1780 days ago
    I am so happy to hear that you are alright! emoticon
    1852 days ago
    1853 days ago
    It is very interesting! I do not want to experience what you have so once again I am facing up to the fact that if I don't lose weight, it will kill me. My mom is suffering with pancreatitis attacks. She's struggled with her weight too, but she is more active than I am. I wonder if her problems are similar to what you have described.
    1853 days ago
    OH my... my liver enzymes have been high for the last couple of years. YIKES! Glad you are in a good range and don't have to be worried, and yes, losing weight is the key to keeping it from taking over. And since I didn't know any of this, I am going to take a copy to my doctor on Friday...

    1853 days ago
    Thank you for posting about this. I never heard of any of the things you wrote about.
    1854 days ago
    Good news. Glad to hear you're okay!

    Love your plan! emoticon
    1854 days ago
  • SPIRIT42013
    Thank you very much! My doctor accused me of drinking even though I haven't had one drink since 1989. Add to that a cyst that has enlarged on my pancreas and a general feeling of illness. I think, we ought to look into this! I appreciate your post! And please feel better ASAP.... emoticon emoticon
    1854 days ago
  • SPIRIT42013
    Thank you very much! My doctor accused me of drinking even though I haven't had one drink since 1989. Add to that a cyst that has enlarged on my pancreas and a general feeling of illness. I think, we ought to look into this! I appreciate your post! And please feel better ASAP.... emoticon emoticon
    1854 days ago
    Glad your new doctor was so insightful and that you are okay. Thanks for sharing all this helpful information.
    1854 days ago
    Thank goodness you have a doctor that seems to be on top of the problem. Very ineteresting blog - thanks for sharing.
    1854 days ago
    I am so happy you finally have your health mystery solved! It is so difficult to know something is wrong and have test after test and they can't find anything! Now you have your answer and a plan to help work it out!! Just knowing what you do should give you a lot of relief!
    1854 days ago
    Glad to hear that you are alright! emoticon

    emoticon on your plan.

    1854 days ago
    Thank you for posting the information, as I have never heard of this disease. I can see why you are concerned, but it sounds like you are bound and determined to get healthier. Keep us updated on how you are doing. emoticon
    1854 days ago
    I certainly hope it isn't cancer. I'll keep you n my thoughts.
    1854 days ago
    thank you for the information
    1854 days ago
    You scared me at first as I was expecting bad news about you. Interesting info but glad you are not real bad.Being over weight is bad for all our organs.
    1854 days ago
    Milk Thistle is the only known herb to detoxify our liver. Since it is an herb, research has been spotty on it but, research with liver cancer and milk thistle has been conducted and results were favorable. Since our liver is the only organ that rejuvenates itself, and milk thistle helps in this process, it may be worthwhile to ask your doc about it. If you are going to buy some, get standardized as it means a guaranteed amount of active ingredient is contained in each pill.
    You have been giving a wake up call! You have time to change behaviors before long term damage such a disease occurs. Your liver is very considerate!!!! Good luck!
    1854 days ago
    well, you have your plan of treatment and wishing you luck that it works for you.

    1854 days ago
  • 0309COOKIE
    Very interesting blog. Good luck with your plan.
    1854 days ago
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