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ALT: What is it, Low, High and Treatment

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ALT: What is it, Low, High and Treatment

Enzymes are proteins that help speed up chemical reactions in the body. It acts as a catalyst (degrader) in the cell. There are thousands of different types of enzymes. ALT is one of them. ALT, short for alanine transaminase, is a type of enzyme that can be found primarily in the liver, but also in the kidneys and other organs. The body uses ALT to convert food into energy. However, small or large amounts may cause some health problems.

What is ALT?

You can have a blood test for a routine check-up. This blood test result will most likely include your ALT value. The ALT blood test was previously known as the SGPT (serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminase) test. The ALT value seen in blood tests measures the amount of ALT in the blood. ALT may be high, low or normal in the blood depending on the situation. High levels of ALT in the blood may be associated with liver damage or disease. When damage occurs in liver cells, ALT is secreted into the bloodstream. For this reason, it can be part of a routine check-up, or a doctor who wants to have information about liver health will also have an idea by checking your ALT values.

Liver diseases may manifest themselves with high ALT levels before showing any symptoms. In this way, early diagnosis can be made for some diseases. In addition, ALT can help determine the difference in damage between acute (sudden) developing liver diseases and chronic liver diseases. Your doctor may want to check your liver health if you have the following symptoms;

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Weakness

  • Anorexia

  • Jaundice

  • swelling in the abdomen

  • dark urine

  • light colored stool

  • Itching

  • Swelling in the body (Edema)

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In addition to the symptoms, your belonging to a high-risk group may also be a reason to check ALT values ​​regularly. Groups at high risk for liver disease include:

  • Family history of liver disease

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Using or having used medications that have negative effects on the liver

  • Hepatitis

What should be the ALT value?

A blood test must first be given to find out the lower value. To do this, a nurse or relevant person inserts a needle into the vein in your arm and then takes some blood with a test tube attached to the other end of the needle. The blood in this tube is then sent to the laboratory and examined for the desired tests. While the blood collection process takes approximately five minutes, the test results may take up to the next day. If you are taking the blood test just to see the ALT value, you do not need to be on an empty stomach.

The normal range of alanine transaminase enzyme in the blood may vary from laboratory to laboratory. The generally used reference range is 7-56 U/L. ALT value may be higher in men than in women. In addition to the ALT level, the result sheet also includes the laboratory’s reference values. Additionally, if there is a high or low value, your result may be written in pink or bold.

What is Low ALT?

Low ALT is rare and usually does not cause any cause for concern. Although the reference value for ALT varies depending on the laboratory where the blood test is examined, low ALT can generally be mentioned at an ALT value less than 7 U/L. Low ALT values ​​may be associated with vitamin B6 deficiency or chronic kidney disease. Your doctor may ask you to have different tests to make sure what is happening.

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What are the symptoms of low ALT?

Low ALT value is a rare condition. It usually does not cause any symptoms, or the symptoms may vary depending on the cause. General symptoms of low ALT are:

  • Constant fatigue, weakness

  • Numbness in hands, arms and legs

  • Nausea

  • difficulty concentrating

What are the Causes of Low ALT?

A low ALT value may indicate a healthy liver. However, there may be some reasons for an ALT value that is lower than the reference range. Some causes of low ALT are:

  • Vitamin B6 deficiency: It is necessary for the ALT enzyme to work. Deficiency is especially seen in elderly people and people with liver or kidney damage.

  • smoking

  • intense exercise

  • Birth control pill

  • hormone therapy

  • kidney diseases

How is Low ALT Treated?

ALT value varies depending on an underlying cause. Therefore, treatments are applied according to the cause. When your doctor sees that you have a low ALT value, he may ask for different tests or perform a biopsy. In this way, the cause of low AL is determined and treatment is planned. For example, if you are experiencing low ALT due to vitamin B6 deficiency, then you can use B6 supplements or feed a diet rich in B6, including legumes, especially chickpeas, nuts, bananas and avocados.

What is ALT Height?

ALT value may vary depending on conditions such as age, gender, diet and exercise. Therefore, when you had an abnormal ALT value, you did not need to worry immediately. Elevated ALT is more common than low. In general, ALT levels above 57 U/L are called ALT elevation. Not every high ALT level may require accompanying treatment. Sometimes high ALT levels can be caused by diseases such as hepatitis, infection, and cirrhosis. However, a high ALT value does not provide information about the extent of liver damage. If there is an elevation in ALT in your results, your doctor will get more detailed information about your situation by asking you to have other liver function tests you need.

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What are the symptoms of ALT elevation?

Elevated ALT often may not cause any symptoms. However, the following symptoms may be observed in elevated ALT levels due to liver damage:

  • Stomache ache

  • dark urine

  • Weakness

  • Itching

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

  • light colored stool

  • Anorexia

  • Nausea and vomiting

What Causes High ALT?

There are many factors that affect the ALT value. These factors may be unchangeable, such as gender and age, or they may result from environmental factors. In general, high ALT levels may be due to:

  • Some painkillers

  • Obesity

  • hepatitis

  • Heart failure

  • celiac

  • thyroid disorders

  • Some muscle disorders

  • Hereditary hemochromatosis (liver disease due to iron overload)

How is ALT Height Treated?

There is no direct medical treatment to reduce the elevated ALT value. Treatment options are directed at the cause. Therefore, first the cause of the ALT elevation is determined. Treatment options for elevated ALT include changes in diet and exercise. Some recommendations for ALT elevation are as follows:

  • The use of both folate and folic acid may have improving properties on liver health. Folate and folic acid are two different forms of vitamin B9. While folic acid is taken in supplement form, folate can be found in some foods. You can add folate-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, asparagus, beets and bananas to your diet.

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may be more common in a diet rich in fat and carbohydrates. For this reason, you can eat healthily without making serious changes in your diet by choosing foods that contain healthier fats such as fish and natural sugars such as fruits.

  • Although not conclusively proven, coffee has been found to have a protective effect on ALT values. Drinking 1 cup of coffee a day can help lower the ALT value.

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