More than fifty million people worldwide have chronic liver disease. These individuals deal with Wilson's disease, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and more.
Unfortunately, these kinds of conditions can lead to death if they're not diagnosed and treated early. The earlier you catch it, the better your outcome will be.
Even if you aren't a heavy drinker, you should worry about your liver health. Many non-drinkers still develop liver issues.
To check your liver health, you need a hepatic function panel. Hepatic function blood tests can help identify whether or not you have liver disease or are at risk for developing it.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Hepatic Function Decline?
Hepatic function decline refers to a decrease in your liver's ability to function properly. The liver is a football-sized organ that lies just under the rib cage on the right side of your abdomen. It's essential to digestion and filtering.
Your liver is the organ that filters toxins like alcohol out of your system.
Due to genetic and environmental conditions, some people take damage to their livers. Over time, too much damage can lead to liver failure. Unfortunately, this can lead to a decline in quality of life and may even lead to death.
Risk Factors for Hepatic Function Decline
Since liver function depends on your genetic and environmental factors, there are many risk factors that researchers have connected with hepatic functional decline:
- A family history of liver disease
- Exposure to toxins and chemicals
- Unprotected sexual encounter(s)
- Heavy alcohol use
- Type II diabetes
- Body piercings
- Injecting drugs (specifically while sharing needles)
- Exposure to other people's bodily fluids
- Having had a blood transfusion before 1992
If any of these risk factors apply to you, you should pay special attention to your liver function panels. Your primary care physician will perform a hepatic function blood test each year when you have routine blood work done.
However, you should let your physician know if have any of these risk factors. With more information, your physician can make better decisions about your health.
Causes of Hepatic Function Decline
As we discussed, the liver is an essential organ. It performs a lot of jobs for the human body. Because of this, there are many causes that can lead to hepatic function decline:
- Chronic alcohol abuse
- Accumulation of fat in the liver, which is also known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Infections such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C
- Genetic conditions such as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Wilson's disease, and hemochromatosis
- Cancers and other neoplasms such as liver cancer, bile duct cancer, and liver adenoma
- Immune systems problems such as autoimmune hepatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and primary biliary cholangitis
- The use of some prescription or over-the-counter medications
- The consumption of some herbs or supplements
Since the liver is one of the primary filtering systems in the body, it's essential to note how important your consumption habits are. In other words, to protect your liver and other vital organs, you should be careful about what you eat and take. Too much alcohol, fatty foods, medications, and other substances can lead to hepatic function decline.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hepatic Function Decline?
Unfortunately, liver problems don't always come with signs and symptoms until the disease is fully developed. As you may remember, time is of the essence with these kinds of conditions. So, you (and your physicians) should be working together to try to diagnose liver-related conditions as early as possible.
Since signs and symptoms don't show up until later in the disease course, you need to make sure that you're getting your regular checkups. Your primary physician is the first line of diagnosis for these kinds of conditions since they perform hepatic function lab tests at your regular appointments.
These liver function panels can let your physician know whether or not there is any damage to your liver. If they do find signs of damage, they can work with you on reversing current damage and/or stopping future damage.
If your liver condition were to advance, here are some signs and symptoms that you should look out for:
- Jaundice, a condition in which your skin and eyes turn a yellowish tint
- Itchy skin
- Easily bruising
- Chronic fatigue
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling in the lower legs and ankles
- Urine that is dark in color
- Stool that is pale in color
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to make an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible. If you're already experiencing jaundice (a sign that your condition has progressed to later stages), you should go to the emergency room.
How Is Hepatic Function Decline Diagnosed?
When you see your doctor, they're going to start by gathering an extensive health history. In addition, they're going to perform a physical examination.
During these two steps, they can detect any genetic markers or physical changes that may be associated with hepatic function decline.
Afterward, your physician will order blood tests to check your liver function. We will discuss more specific tests below.
In addition to these tests, your physician may order an ultrasound, CT, or MRI to visualize any changes to the liver.
Lastly, your physician may want to collect a biopsy of the liver to check for damage to the liver on the cellular or tissue level.
The Lab Tests to Screen, Diagnose, and Monitor Hepatic Function Decline
A full hepatic function panel test will check the following values:
- Albumin/Globulin ratio
- Alkaline phosphatase
All of these values are essential in detecting liver disease and understanding how far the disease has progressed.
Get a Hepatic Function Panel With Ulta Lab Tests
If you think that you may have hepatic function decline, you need to get your blood work done as soon as possible. Luckily, our hepatic function panel tests every biomarker of liver decline.
With confidential results and a quick turnaround, you'll know about your liver health within a few days. Other benefits of using Ulta Lab Tests for your testing needs include:
- Affordable pricing on all tests
- No insurance needed
- No doctor’s referral required
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
With confidential results and a quick turnaround, you'll know about your liver health within a few days. Take control of your health with Ulta Lab Tests!