When you have a blood check of your liver function, lots of separate readings are done. A high bilirubin level would make you jaundiced – there are lots of causes for this, and the other blood tests help show what the cause might be. For instance, if your ‘transaminases’ (ALT and AST) are high, that suggests inflammation in the cells of the liver. If both are raised but your AST is higher than your ALT, it suggests the cause of that inflammation is more likely to be alcohol. If both are raised but your AST is lower than your ALT, it’s more likely to be due to an infectious (viral) cause of hepatitis. If your Alk Phos is raised, this makes it more likely that you have a blockage to the normal flow of bile salts flowing out of your liver.
It sounds, if your GP is talking about a normal level of up to 33, that your transaminase is raised. Fatty liver is caused by the laying down of fat inside the liver. It can stop the liver from functioning effectively and can be due to several causes, of which the most common are alcohol and excess weight – so called non-alcoholic fatty liver.
There is no ‘cut off’ level for transaminase at which fatty liver ends and cirrhosis starts. However, in most cases, it should be possible to reverse any damage (or certainly stop the damage progressing to cirrhosis) if you stop drinking for good when your transaminase is at a level of 83. You really do need to take this as a warning sign – your liver is struggling and continuing to drink at your current level could cause irreversible damage.
Answered by Dr Sarah Jarvis.
We’re here to help you take care of your health - whenever you need us, wherever you are, whether you're an AXA PPP healthcare member or not.
Our Ask the Expert service allows you to ask our team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives, counsellors and pharmacists about any health topic.