High and low amylase: what it is and why it increases or decreases

Unlike other elements that can be found within a blood analysis, with respect to the parameters that are analyzed in a basic way and that allow discovering, assessing and knowing what the health status of the person performing it is, the truth is that the amylase It becomes one of those necessary elements that should be included.

But, nevertheless, it does not happen that way. Although it is a parameter that, as we will see throughout this note, it becomes a useful element to discover possible inflammations or affections of the pancreas, in the same way that high creatinine (kidneys) is included or the transaminases (liver).

What is amylase?

Amylase consists of an enzyme that is produced in both the pancreas and the salivary glands mainly. Among other important functions, helps the decomposition of carbohydrates and starches in sugar.

It treats, as it is to imagine, of a very important process, since the sugar with time ends up becoming glucose, stimulating practically all the processes of our organism.

Why the amylase test is performed and what is it used for

Amylase analysis measures the amount of this enzyme in the blood. Although it is normal for blood to contain small amounts of amylase, a high amount is not as normal.

In fact, a high amount of amylase means that the pancreas is affected, either because it has an inflammation, an injury or is blocked.

Usually this analysis is carried out when the medical specialist suspects that there may be a problem in the pancreas, before the symptoms that the person presents at the time of the consultation, either by a pancreatitis, an obstruction in the duct that carries both the Amylase as other substances from the pancreas to the small intestine, or by stones.

On the other hand, the analysis of amylase also tends to be done as a way to control people with cystic fibrosis. It is a genetic disease in which the thick mucus tends to obstruct the pulmonary tract and the various ducts of the digestive system, which affects both the lungs and the pancreas.

In fact, amylase tends to rise when this thick mucus clogs the pancreatic ducts that carry the enzymes that the small intestine needs for proper food digestion. As a result, problems occur to absorb nutrients.

The analysis of blood amylase is usually done jointly with the lipase, another enzyme of the pancreas that helps the breakdown of fats, and which can help to discover whether or not there is a problem in the pancreas.

Normal values ​​of amylase in blood

As you surely know, the ranges of the normal values ​​of the different parameters analyzed in a blood or urine test may vary slightly between different laboratories.

In the case of blood amylase, values ​​of 23 to 85 U / L are considered normal(units per liter), although some laboratories give values ​​ranging from 40 to 140 U / L as normal range.

Elevated or decreased levels of amylase in the blood

High amylase

As indicated above, elevated blood amylase levels may indicate the existence of a pancreatic disease or a lesion in the pancreas, either by a disease that directly affects this organ (as with cystic fibrosis), by an inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), or by obstruction of the various pancreatic ducts (due to stones).

It can also be indicative of the existence of reduced functions of the kidneys, mainly because the amylase tends to be filtered by the kidney, and eliminated from the body through the urine.

Briefly, blood amylase can be elevated by:

  • Acute or chronic pancreatitis.
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis).
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Intestinal occlusion.
  • Cancer of the pancreas, lungs or ovaries.
  • Obstruction of the biliary or pancreatic tract.
  • Infection of the salivary glands (mumps).
  • Severe gastroenteritis
  • Perforated ulcer.
  • Macroamylasemia.
  • Ectopic pregnancy.

Low amylase

On the other hand, decreased levels of amylase in the blood indicate that the pancreas is not producing enough of this pancreatic enzyme.

It may also be due to different conditions, such as: damage and injury to the pancreas, nephropathy, toxemia of pregnancy and pancreatic cancer. This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor. ThemesBlood test