What Is A Normal Lipase Level
The normal range for adults younger than 60 is 10 to 140 U/L. Normal results for adults ages 60 and older is 24 to 151 U/L. Higher than normal levels of lipase mean that you have a problem with your pancreas. If your blood has 3 to 10 times the normal level of lipase, then it’s likely that you have acute pancreatitis.
Your pancreas is responsible for producing hormones that control many important body functions including digestion. Pancreatic juice contains digestive enzymes called proteases which break down proteins into smaller pieces. Proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids. When these chains are broken they release energy in the form of glucose or sugar. Glucose is an essential nutrient needed by every cell in the human body. The pancreas also produces hormones called insulin and glucagons that help maintain the proper balance between carbohydrates and fat in our bodies. In addition, the pancreas makes enzymes used as catalysts for other metabolic processes such as breaking down food before it can be absorbed through the intestinal wall.
Pancreatitis occurs when there is damage to the pancreas. This type of injury may occur from infections, trauma, certain medications, and even some types of surgery. There are three main symptoms associated with this condition: nausea; vomiting; and abdominal pain. Acute pancreatitis generally lasts less than 48 hours and usually improves within 4 days if left untreated. However, sometimes complications develop due to delayed treatment or fluid overload. These conditions can lead to severe infection, shock, and death.
Acute pancreatitis affects about one percent of all people each year. Its incidence increases with age. It most often develops after consuming excessive alcohol, but gall stones, heavy drinking, smoking, obesity, diabetes mellitus, or use of drugs like aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also cause it. Acute pancreatitis occurs more frequently during winter months because cold weather reduces activity levels.
There are two forms of chronic pancreatitis – idiopathic and secondary. Idiopathic pancreatitis accounts for 95% of cases and its causes are unknown. Secondary pancreatitis is caused by diseases affecting other parts of the body that affect the pancreas such as inflammatory bowel disease, tuberculosis, sclerosing cholangitis, and tumors. Chronic pancreatitis is characterized by persistent inflammation and fibrosis that leads to permanent changes in the structure of the pancreas. As a result, the pancreas cannot produce enough digestive juices to digest food properly. Patients with chronic pancreatitis usually experience frequent episodes of painful attacks known as “episodes.” Episodes are separated by periods of remission when patients feel well. Pain varies greatly from person to person depending on how severely damaged their pancreas is. Some people don’t notice any pain while others suffer extreme discomfort. Most people describe the pain as sharp and intense. Attacks last anywhere from several minutes to several hours and are often accompanied by high fever, dehydration, and loss of appetite. Other common symptoms include fatigue, muscle aches, weight loss, shortness of breath, yellow skin, and jaundice. Death can occur without treatment if infected fluids accumulate in the abdomen causing peritonitis.
Diagnosis of pancreatitis is based on symptoms alone. Blood tests and ultrasound studies are not useful since they only detect blockages of the bile ducts. Diagnosis must always be confirmed by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). ERCP involves inserting a flexible tube into the mouth, stomach, duodenum, and first part of the small intestine. An x-ray dye is injected through the tube so that doctors can view the inside of the tubes and determine whether blockage exists. Abdominal CT scan is another diagnostic tool used to confirm diagnosis.
Treatment depends on severity of illness and includes intravenous rehydration, antibiotics, and analgesics. Antibiotics should be taken immediately to prevent serious bacterial infections. Intravenous fluids may be given to replace lost nutrients and water. Pain relievers are available over the counter, and prescription medicine may need to be obtained. Your doctor will decide what kind of diet best suits you. Treatment generally takes 2 weeks to 1 month. Severe cases may require hospitalization. Surgery may be considered when medical treatments fail to improve pancreatitis symptoms.
A number of disorders can mimic symptoms of pancreatitis. For example, kidney problems, liver dysfunction, peptic ulcer disease, heart failure, and obstructive jaundice can all cause similar symptoms. So, if you think you might have pancreatitis call your doctor right away. He or she may order additional testing to rule out other possible causes of pancreatitis.
Blood lipase test: Lipase is produced primarily by the pancreas and released into the blood stream. The amount of lipase present in your blood is measured using a blood test. Results are reported in units of measure called “U” (units). There are different reference ranges for men and women. The normal range for adults younger than 60 is 10 to 140 U/L. Normal results for adults ages 60 and older is 24 to 151 U/L. Higher than normal levels of lipase mean that you have a problem with your pancreas. If your blood has 3 to 10 times the normal level of lipase, then it’s likely that you have acute pancreatitis.
Trypsinogen test: Trypsinogen is a protein found in the pancreas. Normally, trypsinogen remains inactive until activated by hydrochloric acid from the stomach or enzyme secreted by cells lining the upper portion of the small intestine. The amount of active trypsin generated is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of serum. Elevated levels indicate pancreatitis.
Reticulocyte count: Reticulocytes are immature red blood cells formed in bone marrow. They’re normally destroyed. Their production is stimulated by anemia and reduced by vitamin B12 deficiency and iron deficiency. A marked increase suggests that there is bleeding somewhere in the body.
Gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT): GGT is an enzyme located in the liver that helps breakdown glutamine, a component of hemoglobin. High levels suggest liver damage or impaired liver function.
Alkaline phosphatase: Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme found throughout the body. Elevated levels may be seen in association with liver or bone marrow disorders.
Amylase: Amylase, an enzyme produced exclusively by the salivary glands (exocrine), is released into the saliva and digests starch molecules. Levels rise during exercise, stress, or consumption of foods containing starches. Low levels suggest insufficient secretion of amylase.
Bilirubin, total: Bilirubin is a pigment released by the destruction of red blood cells. High levels suggest the presence of hemolytic anemias.
Alanine transaminase (ALT): ALT is an enzyme produced mainly in the liver. High levels can be seen in hepatitis, alcoholism, fatty infiltration of the liver, cirrhosis, and cancer.
Aspartate aminotransferase (AST): AST is an enzyme found predominantly in the liver. Like ALT, elevated levels can be seen with various hepatic disorders such as viral hepatitis and alcoholic hepatitis.
Creatinine kinase: Creatinine kinase is an enzyme produced in skeletal muscles. Increased levels suggest myocardial infarction, rhabdomyolysis, renal impairment, and muscular dystrophy.
You now know what lipase is and how it’s used to diagnose pancreatitis. Read on to learn about lipoprotein lipase and heparan sulfate.
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