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Liver tests can check and monitor liver function. People can purchase at-home liver tests online and discuss the results with their healthcare provider.
A liver test, or a liver panel or hepatic function panel, is a blood test that assesses the health and function of the liver. A healthcare professional will perform this test in an office by drawing blood from a person’s arm and testing it.
A liver test can check for and help monitor liver disease. It can also assist with diagnosing other conditions that may affect the liver.
Home tests require a blood sample, often from a finger prick. Some of these screenings may look at different markers to screen for liver and other organ health. For example, some companies offer a lipid or cholesterol test that can monitor both liver and heart health.
People who take a liver test may need to fast and avoid taking any medications for a set amount of time. A healthcare professional or home test will instruct if someone needs to avoid food, medications, or both, before taking the test.
Individuals taking an at-home test may also need to contact their healthcare provider to discuss their results.
A traditional liver panel may vary in what enzymes and functions it tests. The American Liver Foundation says some common liver tests include the below.
Liver enzyme tests
Liver enzyme tests can screen for the following enzymes:
- Alanine transaminase (ALT): High levels of this enzyme can indicate acute liver cell damage.
- Aspartate transaminase: High amounts of this enzyme could suggest acute liver cell damage.
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP): High levels of this enzyme can indicate liver or bile duct damage.
- Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT): High amounts of this enzyme may suggest liver or bile duct damage.
Liver protein tests
Liver protein tests screen for the following proteins:
- Globulin: This protein helps the immune system function — low levels of globulin can indicate liver damage and other liver conditions.
- Albumin: An albumin test screens for how well the liver creates protein. Low levels of this protein can suggest liver damage and other liver conditions.
- Prothrombin: High levels of prothrombin, a protein that aids blood clotting, can indicate liver damage.
Bilirubin is a fluid that results from the body’s red blood cells as they break down. If a person has liver damage, bilirubin can enter the bloodstream, causing jaundice. Bilirubin outside the liver can also give urine a very dark appearance.
While home tests may not screen for all of these biomarkers, they may still provide helpful information about potential liver damage, disease, or other liver conditions.
Up to 50% of people living with acute liver disease have no symptoms. Sometimes, the liver can heal itself without needing treatment. However, some cases of liver injury can be severe, and people may require hospitalization and a liver transplant.
People with symptoms of liver disease may experience:
- tiredness or weakness
- pain on the right side, under the ribs
- nausea and vomiting
- dark urine
- pale-colored stools
According to the American Liver Foundation, early detection of liver disease can help improve outcomes. With early detection, a person can take steps to treat the condition, which can allow the liver to heal and regenerate damaged areas.
The following are some home tests that can help a person monitor their liver health. People need to contact their doctor if they receive a test result indicating they may have reduced liver function.
Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.
LetsGetChecked offers several different home tests, including a liver test. The company’s liver test checks for the following levels:
- total protein
Once a person purchases and receives a test, they must register it on the company’s website. They then perform a finger prick test before 10 a.m. and prior to eating breakfast. They need to send the sample back the same day using the prepaid envelope, with results usually taking up to 5 days.
Walk In Labs offers several online tests that screen for different liver diseases. People can choose from tests that screen for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, liver enzymes, liver proteins, and bilirubin.
Unlike some other tests, a person who orders a test online needs to visit a partnered lab to see a healthcare professional who can draw their blood. The lab will run the tests and return the results within 3 days.
Lab.Me offers a cholesterol and lipids test for checking heart and liver health. This test screens for GGT, several fats, and cholesterol levels, including triglycerides, to help a person monitor their health.
The test requires a finger prick, after which a person sends the collected sample to a lab and receives results within 2–3 days.
The company recommends people discuss their test results with their doctor.
A person should consult with their doctor if they receive a test result that indicates liver disease.
Additionally, people can contact a healthcare professional if they have symptoms of liver disease but receive normal test results. A doctor can conduct further tests to diagnose any potential health conditions. They can also discuss treatment options and provide more information on a person’s condition.
The following are some commonly asked questions about liver tests.
Can you test liver function at home?
Liver tests are available for home testing. However, they may not be as extensive as a full liver panel that a healthcare professional may order. A person should follow up with their doctor if they receive any abnormal results — a medical professional will likely order additional testing and review the individual’s general health.
How reliable are at-home tests?
At-home tests can be reliable. The
A person should look for information about where the sample undergoes testing to help ensure quality and accurate test results.
Some tests go to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-approved labs.
To further help test accuracy, individuals should ensure that they always follow the test instructions as directed. Failure to follow the instructions could result in incorrect results.
At-home liver tests can screen for liver enzymes, liver proteins, bilirubin, cholesterol, and lipids to provide an overview of a person’s liver health. However, some tests may not be as extensive as a liver panel that a doctor conducts.
A person should follow up their results with a healthcare professional who can provide additional testing and offer treatment options if required.