The Liver Function Test (LFT)

The liver performs many essential functions of the body. It is responsible for breaking down waste, producing necessary enzymes, regulating blood levels for amino acids, processing hemoglobin, clearing the blood of poison and alcohol, resisting infections, and so many more. With these many functions, the liver is highly susceptible to damage. Common everyday symptoms, such as diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, dark-coloured urine or light-coloured stool, and constant fatigue are usually attributed to other factors and not the liver. Or worse, they are ignored owing to an unhealthy lifestyle. However, these symptoms could be indicating an underlying liver condition.

We highly recommend getting a Liver Function Test (LFT) done to check the health of your liver, especially if you have never done it before. It is an easy yet highly effective way of determining liver-related problems if any. The liver function test is a simple blood test that measures your blood’s levels of proteins, liver enzymes, and Bilirubin to determine your liver’s health. Elevated or decreased concentration of any liver enzyme provides your doctor with information that can be used to diagnose the type and extent of the liver disease that might be affecting you. Minor issues spotted can be also be dealt with before it gets out of hand. Chennai Liver Foundation (CLF) offers this test to everyone free of charge.

If not for Chennai Liver Foundation, a liver function test can be ordered with your regular annual health checkup or as and when required at any hospital. However, you or your doctor should insist on LFT, If any of the following factors apply to you:

  1. You’re taking a particular medication that is known to affect the liver. Here, the Liver function test might to crucial in monitoring its side effects.
  2. You might be undergoing liver disease treatment. In this case, the LFT can track the effectiveness of the medication being monitored for the underlying liver disease.
  3. You have been experiencing consistent symptoms of any gastrointestinal or liver-related issues or known disease.
  4. If you had recently been diagnosed or undergoing treatment for Viral hepatitis, it is crucial to perform LFT to determine the damage the infections might have caused.
  5. You have certain medical conditions like diabetes, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, or anaemia. These conditions can affect your liver and cause damage to a considerable extent if proper care is not taken. LFT can monitor those effects and help your doctor determine the appropriate level of care your liver demands.
  6. You’ve been consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption affects your liver directly. Therefore, it is imperative to undergo a Liver Function Test to determine the extent to which your liver is affected.
  7. When you suffer from any gallbladder disease, then too it is wise to take a LFT.

During a liver function test, the doctor collects one blood sample. The blood sample is then tested to determine the levels and presence of any abnormalities of the following enzymes and substances. 

  • A liver protein called albumin.
  • Test to determine the total amount of protein in the blood.
  • ALT (alanine transaminase), ALP (alkaline phosphatase), AST (aspartate aminotransferase), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), different enzymes that are produced by the liver.
  • A waste product produced by the liver, called Bilirubin. 
  • Lactate dehydrogenase, LD. It is an enzyme found in most of the body’s cells. It is released into the blood when the body’s cells are damaged.
  • Prothrombin time (PT), A protein that plays a role in blood clotting.

If any abnormal results are obtained, a follow-up is required to determine the exact cause of the abnormalities. But to understand what the results mean for you, it is imperative to consult your doctor and undergo a detailed analysis.

There are no specific dietary recommendations or restrictions you’ll need to follow to prepare for the test. But an individual is required to fast for 10-12 hours before taking an LFT. Your blood will be drawn in a hospital or specialised testing facility for the test. After the blood is drawn, the healthcare provider will apply gauze and a bandage to protect the puncture site as soon as the blood is drawn. The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

At Chennai Liver Foundation, we cannot emphasise enough how important it is to maintain the health of your liver. The liver is usually ignored while testing for other organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. A liver function test is an easy and uncomplicated test. It gives you all that you need to know about the health of your liver and can be a determinant step you make towards the well being of yourself.

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