Nearly 4.5 million Americans — almost 1 in every 50 — live with liver disease. Are you one of them? If you're not sure, it might be time to order a liver function test.
A hepatic function panel tests how well your liver is working. Taking the initiative to check your liver function before noticing a problem could help you avoid serious health issues.
Keep reading to learn what a hepatic function panel is, how it can help you catch health issues early, and how you can order it yourself online.
What is a Decline in Hepatic Function?
Your liver is your body's hard-working multitasker. It performs many crucial functions, including:
- Monitoring and regulating chemicals in your blood
- Cleaning toxins from your blood
- Performing functions with your immune system
- Storing energy in the form of glycogen
- Helping break down fatty food
- Breaking down old red blood cells
Your liver is important to almost every function in your body. When your liver works poorly, your whole body can be affected. In medicine, this is known as a decline in hepatic function.
Declining hepatic function can lead to serious health complications. That's why it's important to check your liver health as soon as you suspect that there may be a problem.
Risk Factors for a Decline in Hepatic Function
You should watch for signs of liver problems if you have any risk factors for liver damage, including:
- Traveling without being vaccinated against Hepatitis
- Drinking more than the recommended maximum amount of alcohol per day
- Being in contact with needles that aren't clean
- Taking more than the recommended amount of medication that can harm your liver
While none of these risk factors guarantee that you will have a decline in hepatic function, they make it more likely that you will have liver problems.
Causes of a Decline in Hepatic Function
A decline in hepatic function is usually caused by liver damage or disease, such as:
- A virus that damages the liver (such as Hepatitis A, B, and C)
- Naturally occurring toxins
- Excessive drug use (both street drugs and prescribed drugs)
- Alcohol-related liver damage (alcoholic cirrhosis)
- Liver cancer
A chronic disease like alcoholism can damage your liver slowly over a long period of time. Other diseases, such as viruses, can damage your liver quickly and leave you with lasting liver problems.
Signs and Symptoms of a Decline in Hepatic Function
If your liver is damaged, you'll need to get help immediately. Symptoms of low hepatic function include:
- Jaundice (yellow color of your skin and eyes)
- Light-colored stool and dark-colored urine
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Pain in your lower abdomen
If you see any of these symptoms of liver failure develop, you could be at risk for serious illness from liver damage and should have your liver function assessed right away.
How is Decline in Hepatic Function Diagnosed?
A lab can analyze your hepatic function using blood tests. When you order your liver test online, you'll go to a patient service center to get a blood draw. They will take a sample of blood on which to perform tests.
Lab Tests to Screen, Diagnose, and Monitor Decline in Hepatic Function
Because your liver performs so many functions, a hepatic function panel includes a wide range of tests. These blood tests check how well your liver is doing its various tasks.
There are so many possible liver function tests that they are usually bundled together into a liver function panel. The most common tests included in a liver function panel are:
- Aspartate transaminase (AST)
- Alanine transaminase (ALT)
- Albumin and total protein
- Blood creatinine
Once you've been diagnosed with a decline in hepatic function, you can continue to order liver function panels to monitor your liver's status.
You can also get lab tests to diagnose the cause of your liver problems, including:
These tests can help you narrow down the source of damage to your liver.
Frequently Asked Questions About Decline in Hepatic Function
Fortunately, testing hepatic function involves straightforward tests. However, you may still have questions.
Are There Any Risks Involved in a Hepatic Function Panel?
When you get your hepatic function tested, the only risks involved are the normal side effects of getting a blood test. You may see some bleeding and bruising around the blood test site. To minimize bruising, put a bandage over the site and hold it on with firm pressure for several minutes after the blood test.
Should I Fast Before My Hepatic Function Tests?
It depends on which tests you order. Some tests do not require you to fast before you have your blood drawn, but others do. Make sure to ask your doctor or online medical professional about the specific tests that you have ordered.
Keep in mind that you may want to order other tests in addition to your hepatic function panel, like a comprehensive metabolic panel, and have them all done at once. If you are ordering other tests, you may need to fast for those ones, even if you don't have to fast for your hepatic function tests.
To fast, avoid eating for 12 hours before the test. Avoid drinking anything other than water.
Do I Have To Wait For a Doctor to Order Hepatic Function Tests For Me?
When you order your lab test online, you don't have to wait for a doctor's referral. This saves you time and money.
Catch Liver Disease Early With a Hepatic Function Panel
Your liver is one of the most essential organs in your body. If your liver is damaged, you should know about it right away.
Ulta Lab Tests lets you order lab tests with no need for a physician referral, so you can be proactive about your health. You'll get your confidential results in as little as 24 to 48 hours.
Take control of your liver health today with a hepatic function panel test from Ulta Lab Tests.