Your body’s pancreas and salivary glands produce an enzyme called amylase. An amylase blood test can measure the levels of amylase in your blood.

Your urine can also be tested for amylase. A higher-than-usual or lower-than-usual amount of amylase may be a sign that your pancreas is not functioning normally.

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What is an amylase test?

An amylase test is a simple blood or urine test that measures the amount of amylase in your system. Amylase is a digestive enzyme. Your pancreas secretes amylase through your pancreatic duct into your small intestine.

Then it breaks down the starches and carbohydrates in food into simple sugars, which your body uses for energy. The amylase urine test and amylase blood test measure the same thing.

Why is an amylase test important?

This test can alert your healthcare provider that your pancreas may be damaged or inflamed. Some symptoms of pancreatic disorders include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Severe upper abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

This test can provide information to help your healthcare provider make a diagnosis. Pancreatitis is the condition most typically linked to high amylase levels.

You may be at risk for pancreatitis if you are obese, have high triglyceride levels, have a family history of pancreatitis, have had gall stones or drink large amounts of alcohol.

However, other conditions can raise your amylase levels, including:
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cholecystitis (gall bladder inflammation)
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Bile duct blockage
  • Perforated ulcer
  • Macroamylasemia
  • Tubal pregnancy

A low level of amylase could be the result of pancreatic cancer or other damage to your pancreas, as well as kidney disease. A number of medications can also affect your amylase levels.

What should you expect with an amylase test?

With a blood test, a healthcare provider will draw blood from a vein in your arm and send the blood sample to a lab for testing. You should get results within one or two days. With a urine test, you will have to provide a random urine sample or you may need to provide a 24-hour sample.

You usually won’t need to do anything special to prepare for an amylase test. Ask your healthcare provider if you should avoid eating any foods, taking certain medications or drinking alcohol before undergoing the test.

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