It is a particular enzyme or protein produced by the pancreas and salivary glands.
The pancreas is an organ located behind your stomach. It creates various enzymes that help break down food in your intestines.
The pancreas can sometimes become damaged or inflamed, causing it to make too much or too little amylase. An abnormal amount of amylase in your body can signify a pancreatic disorder.
High levels of amylase are often called hyperamylasemia.
An amylase blood test can determine if you have the pancreatic disease by measuring the amount of amylase in your body. You may have a disorder that affects your pancreas if your amylase levels are too low or high.
Why is an amylase blood test done?
Amylase is usually measured by testing a sample of your blood. In some cases, a urine sample can also determine the amount of amylase in your body.
A blood amylase test is usually done if your doctor suspects pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Amylase levels can also increase due to other pancreatic disorders, such as:
- Pancreatic pseudocyst.
- Pancreatic abscess.
- Pancreatic cancer.
Symptoms vary for different diseases but can include:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
How do I prepare for an amylase blood test?
You should avoid drinking alcohol before the test. It would help if you also inform your doctor about any medications you may be taking.
Certain medications can affect your test results. Your doctor may tell you to stop taking a particular medicine or change the dose temporarily.
Some medications that can affect the amount of amylase in your blood include:
- Birth control pills.
- Cholinergic drugs.
- Ethacrynic acid.
- Opioids, such as codeine, meperidine, and morphine.
- Thiazide diuretics, such as chlorothiazide, indapamide, and metolazone.
What can I expect during an amylase blood test?
The procedure involves taking a blood sample through a vein, usually in your arm. This process only takes a few minutes.
The healthcare provider will apply an antiseptic to the area where your blood will be drawn.
An elastic band will be tied around your upper arm to increase the amount of blood flow to your veins, causing them to swell. This makes it easier to find a vein.
Next, a needle will be inserted into your vein. After the vein is punctured, blood will flow through the hand into a small tube that is connected to it. You may feel a slight prick when the needle goes in, but the test is not painful.
Once enough blood has been collected, the needle will be removed, and a sterile bandage will be applied over the puncture site.
The collected blood is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
What do the results mean?
Labs may differ in what they consider an average amount of amylase in the blood. Some laboratories define a moderate amount as 23 to 85 units per liter (U / L), while others consider that 40 to 140 U / L is regular.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about your results and what they mean.
Abnormal results can occur for several reasons. The underlying cause depends on whether the amylase level in your blood is too high or too low.
A high amylase count can be a sign of the following conditions:
Acute or chronic pancreatitis
Acute or chronic pancreatitis occurs when enzymes that help break down food in the intestines begin to break down the tissues of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis comes on suddenly but doesn’t last long.
Chronic pancreatitis, however, lasts longer and will flare up from time to time.
Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder usually caused by gallstones. Gallstones are hard deposits of digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder and cause blockages.
Tumors can sometimes cause cholecystitis. Amylase levels will increase if the pancreatic duct that allows amylase to enter the small intestine is blocked by a gallstone or inflammation.
Macroamylasemia develops when macroamylase is present in the blood. Macroamylase is a protein-bound amylase.
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. Bacteria or a virus can cause it.
Peptic ulcers or a perforated ulcers
A peptic ulcer is a condition in which the lining of the stomach or intestine becomes inflamed and causes ulcers or ulcers. When ulcers spread along with the tissue of the stomach or intestine, it is called a perforation. This condition is considered a medical emergency.
Tubal or ectopic pregnancy
The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. A tubal pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg or embryo is in one of your fallopian tubes instead of your uterus. This is also called an ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy that takes place outside of the uterus.
Other conditions can also cause elevated amylase counts, including vomiting from any cause, excessive alcohol consumption, salivary gland infections, and intestinal blockages.
A low amylase count can indicate the following problems:
Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs when blood pressure is high and is pregnant. It is also known as toxemia of pregnancy.
Many medical problems cause kidney disease, but the most common are high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus.