Originally published: 21.OCT.2019
Last updated: 05.SEP.2023
Responsible for over 500 vital bodily functions, your liver is one of the most hard-working organs in the body. That’s why it is crucial to keep a close eye on your liver health and function to avoid any long-term complications. But how often should you check in?
Learn everything you should know about checking in on your liver, including when to consider a liver test and the aspects of your health that can impact your liver function.
- When Should You Check Your Liver Function?
- What is a Liver Function Test?
- 7 Reasons to Check Your Liver Function
When Should You Check Your Liver Function?
There are no specific guidelines regarding how frequently you should test or at what age. However, in general, it is recommended to check in if you are
- Experiencing abnormal symptoms
- Concerned about a medical condition
- Taking medications that may impact liver health
What is a Liver Function Test?
Liver function tests are blood sample tests that can help monitor liver health and detect liver damage or liver dysfunction. The test measures certain enzymes and proteins in your blood which can indicate liver problems. The liver panel usually includes alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine transaminase (ALT), albumin, and total protein.
Liver tests are usually carried out to screen for viral infections, monitor medical conditions, and monitor the side effects of certain medications. These are not the only reasons to consider a liver function test though and you may consider taking one if:
- You are experiencing abnormal symptoms
- You have a family history of liver issues
- You are an alcoholic
- You are taking performance-enhancing drugs
- You suffer from eating disorders
- You have had or currently live with gastrointestinal disease
- You have had or currently live with gallstones
7 Reasons to Check Your Liver Function
#1 You are experiencing abnormal symptoms
Liver disease does not always cause noticeable signs and symptoms. However, if they do occur, they may include:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Itchy skin
- Dark colored urine
- Pale stool color
- Yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice)
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or are concerned about any other persistent signs, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Related article: What are the Symptoms of Liver Dysfunction?
#2 You have a family history of liver issues
If you have a family member who has previously or currently suffers from liver function issues, it increases your likelihood of developing liver issues. Hemochromatosis and Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency are the most common liver issues to be passed from family member to family member.
If you have a family history of liver issues, you should explain your family history to your doctor and ask them for specific recommendations on how often you should get tested as well as specific lifestyle habits you may need to implement on a regular basis. You may also consider regularly checking in on other aspects of your general health which can be done with LetsGetChecked’s range of Wellness Testing options.
#3 You are an alcoholic
If you regularly consume too much alcohol or you have been diagnosed with alcoholism, you should consider liver function tests as a measurement of treatment, once alcohol abuse has ceased. If you have been living with alcoholism or you have been binge-drinking alcohol over a prolonged period of time, liver function tests may be helpful to monitor the reversible damage of drinking over a prolonged period of time.
#4 You are taking medications or performance-enhancing drugs
Taking performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids or other potent medications may lead to liver abnormalities and tumors. If you are currently taking anabolic steroids, or you recently stopped taking anabolic steroids, liver function tests may be useful to monitor some of the specific proteins and enzymes that are affected by taking steroids and/or various medications. If you have been taking medications and have exceeded the recommended doses on a number of occasions, liver function testing is recommended to monitor the effects that taking these medications has had.
Related article: Is Testosterone a Steroid?
#5 You are recovering from an eating disorder
For those who are recovering or are currently living with an eating disorder, doctors often perform a number of tests. Liver function testing is important within the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of anorexia and bulimia, as well as a complete blood count, kidney function, and thyroid function tests.
#6 You have had or currently live with gastrointestinal disease
Gastrointestinal disease and liver problems are tightly linked. If you have one, it is likely you will live with the others, Doctors will likely recommend that you take a liver function test if you are living with gastrointestinal disease.
#7 You have had or currently live with gallstones
If you are currently living with gallstones, your doctor will likely recommend that you take a liver function test. They are also likely to carry out a physical exam on the abdomen to see if the liver or gallbladder is tender or enlarged.
Remember, there are no specific guidelines on when to begin regularly checking in on your liver function. However, if you are concerned about your liver health for any reason, including any of the above-mentioned, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider you trust.
If you would like to begin being proactive about your general health to help support your liver. LetsGetChecked can help you on your journey. LetsGetChecked offers a range of Wellness Testing options that can help you keep a close eye on your overall well-being including the Essential Vitamin Test, Micronutrient Test, and Cholesterol Test.
Here's how it works
- The test is shipped directly to you
- Activate your test and answer a few health-related questions
- Your health record will be reviewed by a medical team member and should you need any support services, they will be provided
- Collect your sample at a time that suits you
- Send your sample back to our laboratory using the pre-paid shipping label provided
- Your sample will be processed in an anonymous and timely manner
- Your results will be reviewed by our team of doctors. A member of our nursing team will contact you to offer guidance on the best next steps for you.