Amylase Levels in Blood – How does it Help in Digestion

Amylase is a very important enzyme in digestion process. It breaks down the complex carbohydrate and starch substances in the food to simpler substances. These simpler substances can readily be used by the body. Usually blood contains 25 to 160 units of amylase per liter of it. But if this level goes up or comes down, it may lead to various health conditions. In human body, amylase enzyme is secreted by pancreas and salivary glands. There are 3 types of amylase – alpha, beta and gamma amylases. All these types of amylases act on the glycosidic bonds of carbohydrates and starch and break them.

Amylase in Digestion

Amylase enzyme helps digestion of food in the mouth itself. Saliva contains amylase that breaks down the carbohydrates after the food is masticated in the mouth. Amylase in stomach and intestine digests the remaining carbohydrates that are not digested in the mouth. Amylase is also very important in removing the dead white blood cells (WBC) from the body. In-spite of these functions, the amylase levels in the blood should be normal for digestion processes to occur and it is very essential for the body.

Amylase Levels in Blood

Amylase levels in a human body can be determined through urine or blood test. The necessity to perform the amylase test arises only when a person suffers from abdominal pain. It helps in diagnosing problems related to pancreas. Before going for amylase test, the person has to refrain from any medications and alcohol because these elevate the amylase levels in blood. The normal levels of amylase in blood is 25 to 160 units per litre.

Low Amylase Levels in Blood

Low levels of amylase in blood result due to high consumption of carbohydrates through foods. This generally arises in people who are deficient of amylase enzyme. Amylase breaks down the complex carbohydrates and starch to simpler substances. If more amounts of complex carbohydrates are consumed, more amylase is required to break them. Hence levels of amylase become low than the normal leading to amylase deficiency symptoms.

Effects of Low Levels of Amylase

Amylase deficiency leads to formation of abscesses since the dead WBCs are not digested. These abscesses contain pus without any microbes.
Skin disorders like dermatitis, psoriasis, allergic reactions, inflammation occur.
Respiratory diseases such as asthma develop.
Amylase levels go down in patients suffering from hepatitis, pancreatic cancers and cirrhosis.

High Amylase Levels in Blood

High levels of amylase in blood result due to acute pancreatitis condition i.e injury to pancreas. The amylase levels may raise to a level of 4 to 6 times the normal within 12 hours of injury to pancreas. Kidney related disorders can also lead to increased levels of amylase in blood.

Thus the amylase levels can be determined through blood or urine test methods. The doctor may prescribe the medications based on amylase levels whether low or high. These medications help in maintaining the normal amylase levels.

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