Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is a protein common in your body’s tissue. The alkaline phosphatase test measures the amount of ALP in your blood. It is used to detect abnormal liver and bone conditions. Abnormal conditions can be indicators of larger issues, like cancer or Paget’s disease (a bone disease).

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ALP Levels

Other issues can affect your ALP levels, including:
  • Pregnancy
  • Healing fractures
  • Growing bones in children and adolescents
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Anti-epileptic drugs

Why is the alkaline phosphatase test important?

An ALP test is sometimes ordered as part of routine testing, or if you show symptoms of a liver or bone disorder. Sometimes, ALP test results can trigger further testing to determine why the amounts of the protein in your blood are abnormal. The test can also help make sure treatments are working. It can measure disorders such as alcoholism and pancreatitis.

Some of the signs and symptoms of bone or liver disorders include:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin
  • Dark-colored urine or light-colored stool
  • Itching
  • Bone and/or joint pain
  • Increased bone injuries
  • Deformed bone shape

What should you expect with an alkaline phosphatase test?

A high alkaline phosphatase test result can mean that the liver has been damaged or that your bones show increased cell activity. If your results are elevated, you will probably need more testing to determine whether the high results are from a bone or liver condition.

A low alkaline phosphatase result could indicate malnutrition, protein deficiency or a more serious condition.

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