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Amylase Test

Amylase test is a simple blood test that is conducted to diagnose the disorders of the pancreas. Amylase is a digestive enzyme produced by the pancreas and salivary glands and is essentially responsible for converting the carbohydrates into simple sugars. Some amount of amylase is always present in the blood. However, if the pancreas are infected, inflamed or damaged, very high or low levels of amylase may be released into the blood. Amylase test measures the amylase levels present in the blood. In some cases, amylase levels are also estimated by taking urine sample of the patient.

Any abnormal levels of amylase found in a blood test may indicate Pancreatitis. The symptoms of Pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain especially in the epigastria region that radiates to the back and nausea associated with fever. When the patient develops any of these symptoms in a short span, doctor may suspect acute Pancreatitis and advise amylase test immediately to diagnose the condition. In acute pancreatitis, there is a sudden surge in the amylase levels that may show 5 to 6 times the normal level of amylase in the blood. On the other hand, chronic pancreatitis gives rise to moderately raised amylase level that may be present for a longer period. In due course, Amylase levels may also drop as the health of the pancreas deteriorates further. Thus amylase test results provide useful information in detecting the presence of pancreatitis and also the type of the condition.

Though, amylase test is mainly ordered to diagnose pancreatitis, high level of amylase also indicates other conditions such as gall bladder attacks, inflamed salivary glands, pancreatic duct obstruction and ovarian cancer. Similarly low level of amylase in the blood implies damaged pancreas, toxemia of pregnancy, damaged liver, or kidney disease in the patient.

Preparing for the test

This test does not require any elaborate preparations. The test involves drawing the blood through vein puncture. However patient needs to follow certain instructions before going for the test.

1. Avoid alcohol for 24 hours before the test.

2. Avoid intake of food 2 hours prior to the test.

3. Certain drugs such as aspirin, birth control pills, Cholinergic medications, Ethacrynic acid, Methyldopa, Opiates, and Thiazide diuretics may interfere with the test results; hence doctor may ask the patient to stop those medicines prior to the test.

The normal range for amylase is as follows:

Blood test: Normal is 40-140 units per liter

Urine Test: Normal is 24-400 units per liter

Any level above or below the normal range indicates the presence of digestive disorder and requires further probing.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 7, 2022