What is Transaminitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Transaminitis?

Transaminitis is not a medical condition but actually points towards an underlying medical condition that may be affecting the liver. The meaning of the term Transaminitis is elevated transaminases which are enzymes secreted by the liver.

Whenever the liver is not functioning properly due to any disease condition then the levels of the transaminases increase causing Transaminitis. The function of transaminases is to facilitate metabolic process in the body. There are basically two types of transaminases namely alanine transaminase of ALT and aspartate transaminase or AST.

A dysfunctional liver is always a cause for concern as the liver is a crucial organ of the body and any disease to this part of the body is usually fatal in the long run and if not properly treated. Thus it is extremely important to diagnose the cause of a dysfunctional liver at the earliest possible time and the best way to do it by detecting the presence of Transaminitis.

This will allow the treatment to begin at an earlier stage and help the liver to recover and prevent any further progression of the disease process. In some cases, the damage done to the liver can also be reversed if there is early detection of Transaminitis.

What is Transaminitis?

What are the Causes of Transaminitis?

There can be numerous causes for Transaminitis or elevation of transaminases and not all the causes may be due to a dysfunctional liver. Hypercholesterolemia, side effects of certain medications, or use of certain herbal supplements may also result in development of Transaminitis.

Statins are a common cause of Transaminitis as a potential side effect. Transaminitis not only points towards a liver disease but in some cases it is also an indicator towards other potentially serious medical condition. Elevated levels of AST may point towards a heart disease causing Transaminitis.

What are the Symptoms of Transaminitis?

An individual with mild form of Transaminitis may not experience any symptoms but in cases of significant elevation of AST and ALT then the first sign will be yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes with other signs of jaundice.

Gradually as the jaundice worsens the individual will start experiencing lethargy, weakness, tiredness, along with pain in the abdomen and cloudy colored urine. The individual will also have light colored stools as a result of blockage of the bile duct due to Transaminitis.

Frequent itching is also one of the symptoms which may suggest Transaminitis as there is accumulation of toxins due to a dysfunctional liver in the skin and blood producing an itching sensation. This will be followed by edema of the feet and ankles suggesting acute form of Transaminitis.

What are Some of the Medical Conditions That Transaminitis Points to?

Transaminitis most commonly indicates a liver disease but the exact type of illness needs to be diagnosed as there are many diseases which can affect the liver causing Transaminitis.

Some of the common diseases which Transaminitis points to are:

Viral Hepatitis: This is a condition which commonly causes Transaminitis, both in the acute and chronic forms. Additionally, there will also be elevation of the levels of bilirubin making the individual jaundiced.

Toxic Hepatitis: This is also a medical condition of the liver that causes Transaminitis. This condition is usually caused as a result of side effect of medications like medications for tuberculosis, erythromycin, tetracycline, isoniazid, contraceptives, and medications given for cancer. In majority of the cases, once the offending medication is identified and removed from the drug regimen the levels return back to normal.

Alcoholic Liver Disease: Long term abuse of alcohol also causes this condition resulting in Transaminitis. Along with alcoholic liver disease, the individual can also get fatty liver and cirrhosis as well which are both extremely serious medical conditions.

Autoimmune Liver Disease: This is also a condition which can cause Transaminitis. In this condition, the body’s defence mechanism attacks its own healthy tissues resulting in inflammation and cell necrosis. The conditions caused by autoimmune dysfunction resulting in Transaminitis are autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and sclerosing cholangitis.

How is Transaminitis Treated?

Since Transaminitis is not a medical condition there is no treatment for it. Since it is an indicator of an underlying liver dysfunction, as soon as there is Transaminitis observed the patient should be tested for liver diseases and once diagnosed treatment should be started for that disease at the earliest possible time.

Once Transaminitis is detected, further investigational studies become prudent to identify the cause of Transaminitis like blood work, advanced imaging studies like ultrasound of the abdomen, MRI and CT scans to look at the status of the liver and to look for any changes that may be causing Transaminitis.

A liver biopsy may also be done to detect the presence of any tumor growth suggesting liver cancer. Once Transaminitis is detected, the lifestyle of the patient needs to be dramatically altered. The patient needs to stay away from any fatty food, foods that are spicy and oily. The patient needs to absolutely stay away from alcohol.

If Transaminitis are caused by other disease conditions like obesity, diabetes, viral infections, or side effect of the medications then specific treatment need to be administered.

In cases where side effect of medications is responsible for Transaminitis then changing the medication is a must as in majority of the cases once the medication is changed the levels come back to normal range.

Apart from this, viral infections can be treated with medications and lifestyle modifications by keeping diabetes under control and bringing the weight down by healthy means which can get the elevated levels back to normal and help with Transaminitis.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 21, 2018

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