World Liver Day 2023: 5 blood tests that can tell you about liver health

On World Liver Day, a doctor tells you about 5 medical tests for liver health that people must go for to ensure proper functioning of this important organ.
Liver health in women
Your liver health needs to be in check. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Gurbakhshish Singh Sidhu Published: 18 Apr 2023, 13:15 pm IST
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Liver is one of the most vital organs of the body and helps in numerous functions, including the purification of the blood, the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, the synthesis of proteins to make antibodies, and hormone regulation. It also functions as a storage unit for minerals, vitamins, iron and glycogen. Therefore, it is essential that you remain considerate and vigilant about your liver health. This World Liver Day, let us tell you about tests for liver health you can take at regular intervals as a precautionary measure.

Do you know that the development of liver disorders is slow and progressive? It may take up to 10 years for the liver to be completely damaged, but once the damage starts to happen, it is irreversible.

Liver disorders in India have been progressively increasing in the past decades. It is one of the most concerning diseases due to the fact that it is mostly asymptomatic in the beginning. When the condition worsens, it inflicts symptoms of abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, and stomach issues. If the real condition is not diagnosed on time, it can lead to chronic liver failure and even fatality.

Therefore, routine tests for liver health become the key method of precaution, along with maintaining healthy habits.

liver problems
Your liver health may be affected by your eating and lifestyle habits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5 key blood tests for liver health

There are different types of blood tests that can measure liver health. Here are key liver function tests you may go for.

1. Liver function tests (LFTs)
Also known as liver panel tests, this is the overall comprehensive test of the liver that measures enzymes, proteins, and other substances that are made by the liver. If these levels are too low or too high, it will mark abnormal functioning of the liver. It also helps in discovering the specific area of the liver that is damaged.

2. Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) test

An important enzyme in the liver is called GGT. It functions as a transport enzyme that helps the liver metabolise drugs and other toxins. If the levels of GGT are too high, they indicate improper kidney function and damage. This test is usually done to test cases of alcohol abuse, and to test for drugs and other toxic substances.

3. Prothrombin time (PT) test

Prothrombin is a protein made by the liver that helps in blood clotting. Undertaking a PT test measures the time that the body is taking for blood to clot. Abnormal levels of PT mean that the liver is not functioning efficiently.

Also read: Take your liver health seriously if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms

Symptoms of liver problems
Don’t ignore symptoms of liver problems. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test

This test is mainly undertaken on pregnant women to check for any cancer developing in the body. It can also be undertaken occasionally on non-pregnant people as a marker of tumours.

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5. Viral hepatitis tests

With increasing cases of hepatitis, a viral hepatitis test has become essential. Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver due to injury or infection. There are different types of hepatitis infections, which are identified as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. These infections cause long term damage to the liver and the body.

The last word

Taking any one of these tests for liver health may not be ideal for a comprehensive analysis. A medical practitioner will guide the patient on which tests to take based on their age, symptoms, medical history of disease, and lifestyle choices. One of the tests coming up positive does not necessarily mean that the liver is damaged. Sometimes, further investigation may be required to diagnose the issue.

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About the Author

Dr Gurbakhshish Singh Sidhu is a senior Consultant - Medical Gastroenterology, at the Manipal Hospital in Patiala. ...Read More

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