Tracking Your Liver Lab Tests
There are many lab tests done to help diagnosis liver disease. Understanding and tracking liver lab tests can help you, and your doctor, make decisions about hepatitis C treatment, and also long-term care. I know that waiting for results can be scary. When I’m really anxious, I end up putting in a call to the doctor’s office. You can do that, or fire up the computer for a visit to your favorite hep C or website or forum.
Offering my best tips
Once we find out what your bilirubin, protein, ALT, and AST means, of course, we start to wonder (translate worry) how it will affect us over the long haul. Personally, I always want to know exactly what my numbers are. From the time of my diagnosis, I have used a system to help me understand what was going on with my body. I want to offer my best tips for tracking your liver lab tests.
Get a copy
Ask your medical provider to print one out for you. Some labs put results online and you can print them yourself. Recently, I’ve begun to open the lab results on my phone. Then I can take a screenshot and save it in pictures.
Write it down
I have a huge addiction to office supplies in general. When it comes to sticky notes and index cards, I go overboard. It’s not unusual for me to write something down in 3 different formats. I may use graphing paper, colored index cards, and ALSO sticky notes to put on my desk. It helped me to make sense of everything when I was on treatment for hep C. It was super handy when I had liver cancer.
Keep this in mind
Some things to keep in mind:
- Each medical lab may have a different “normal” value.
- You may have normal liver function even though you have hep C.
- The numbers may fluctuate due to medications.
- If you have hepatitis C, your levels may be elevated due to the virus growing in your liver.
- While on treatment, certain lab numbers like ALT, may go down.
- You can expect your numbers to go up and down.
- After you clear the virus, numbers may still be elevated for a while.
- If you have any stage of cirrhosis, your numbers may be higher.
- Adenomas, tumors, liver cancer, and liver transplant may change the numbers.
- Your age can affect the normal range.
- The numbers may be slightly different from male to female, depending on the enzyme.
Tracking the big picture of your health
Tracking your liver lab tests is just one more tool to help you with hep C. Remember, it is not the only tool. All of my tests were in the normal range for many years. I had a spike in ALT one year. My doctor thought it was because I was using a medication to stop smoking. I did NOT know I had HCV. Be sure and talk to your doctor about the big picture of your health. That includes tracking your liver test results, noticing any physical signs such as excessive fatigue, bruising, swelling, or yellow skin. It can give you a sense a confidence to stay on top of your lab work. It can also lead to a healthier future.