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How to Treat Elevated Liver Enzymes ALT & AST

Elevated liver enzymes usually are not a life-threatening condition, but high ALT and AST do warrant prompt medical attention. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis caused more than 39,000 deaths in the United States in 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the hospitalization of about 112,000 people 1. Elevated ALT and AST indicate damage to your liver caused by disease or infection.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Fill any prescriptions your doctor has recommended. Corticosteroids and pentoxifylline reduce inflammation of the liver. Ursodeoxycholic acid slows the progression of primary biliary cirrhosis. Antiviral medications reduce liver enzymes elevated by hepatitis C.

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Take diuretics as prescribed by your physician. Diuretics remove excess fluid from the body. Your physician might prescribe antibiotics if you have cirrhosis or a liver problem caused by an infection.

Stop drinking alcohol immediately. Alcohol use can cause liver diseases, like cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis. Do not drink alcohol after you have recovered.

Foods Known to Damage the Liver

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Eat a special diet. A low-protein diet will reduce the risk of toxins building up in the body due to the liver’s inability to process protein correctly. You should eat a high-carbohydrate diet. Avoid salt, as sodium causes swelling and fluid build-up in the liver. Your doctor might suggest vitamins and supplements to make up for those lost by liver dysfunction. Avoid eating shellfish if you have cirrhosis of the liver, as shellfish can contain bacterium that can cause serious infection.

Lose weight. Obesity, either as the sole cause or in combination with other factors, is quickly becoming a risk factor for the development of cirrhosis, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. LabTestsOnline.org shows that cirrhosis elevates AST.

Make a follow-up appointment with your doctor to discuss the effectiveness of treatment. Have your blood tested frequently to determine the levels of ALT and AST. Your doctor might order a liver panel, which includes ALT, AST and other liver enzymes. A normal value for ALT is seven to 55 units per liter, according to MayoClinic.com, and your AST should be six to 48 units per liter.

Talk with your doctor about receiving a liver transplant if your liver enzymes do not return to normal due to chronic liver disease. A liver transplant is a major operation, entailing the complete removal of your liver and replacing it with a donor’s. There are many more recipients than donors, and a recipient usually is chosen to receive a liver based on his chances of survival.

The Wrap Up

Elevated liver enzymes usually are not a life-threatening condition, but high ALT and AST do warrant prompt medical attention. Do not drink alcohol after you have recovered. Avoid salt, as sodium causes swelling and fluid build-up in the liver. Your doctor might suggest vitamins and supplements to make up for those lost by liver dysfunction. Make a follow-up appointment with your doctor to discuss the effectiveness of treatment.

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