What Is the Alkaline Phosphatase Test, and What Does It Check?

The alkaline phosphatase enzyme is mainly found in the bones, liver, kidneys, and digestive system. Several other parts also produce the enzyme, and the alkaline phosphatase produced by every body part is different. If your body is showing signs of abnormal levels of this enzyme, you should consult a doctor.  

Purpose of the Alkaline Phosphatase Test

An ALP test can screen or diagnose diseases associated with the liver or bones. It can also help determine other health conditions. Doctors often recommend this test to patients with the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Weakness 
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Swelling and pain in the abdomen
  • Jaundice
  • Frequent itching
  • Dark-colored urine and light-colored stool
  • Pain in the bones
  • Unusually shaped bones
  • Unusually large bones
  • Arthritis or inflammation in the joints
  • Broken bones

Normal Range for Alkaline Phosphatase

The normal range for alkaline phosphatase lies between 44 IU/L to 147 IU/L or 30 IU/L to 120 IU/L. Look at your test result to understand what range is considered normal by your lab. It is advisable to consult a doctor for an accurate assessment of the test results.

You should know that age and gender have a huge influence on alkaline phosphatase levels. Due to bone growth and development, ALP levels are higher during childhood and puberty. In males between 15 to 50 years, the ALP levels are higher than in females. 

ALP levels also start increasing with age. Since ALP exists in the placenta, pregnant women have higher levels. Individuals recovering from a bone fracture will also have higher ALP levels.

What Do High ALP Levels in Blood Test Results Indicate?

High ALP levels indicate an acute health issue. An extremely high ALP level indicates that you have a bone disorder or liver damage. On the other hand, mildly elevated levels occur due to different factors and usually don’t need medical treatment. 

High alkaline levels in the liver indicate the following:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver: It is a late-stage liver disease that replaces healthy liver tissue with a scarred one and causes permanent damage.
  • Cholestasis of pregnancy: It is a liver disease developing during late pregnancy.
  • Biliary atresia: It is a rare condition that occurs due to a blockage in the ducts or tubes carrying bile from the liver to the gallbladder. This condition is also common in infants.
  • Hepatitis: It causes inflammation of the liver. 
  • Biliary stricture: the condition occurs due to the narrowing of the bile duct.
  • Mononucleosis: It is a contagious infection that can trigger swelling in the liver.

High ALP levels in your bones indicate the following:

  • Osteomalacia: It weakens the bone and makes them brittle. It usually occurs due to vitamin D deficiency.
  • Osteogenic sarcoma: It is a type of cancer occurring in the bones.
  • Hyperthyroidism: It occurs when your thyroid gland produces and secretes too much of the thyroid hormone.
  • Hyperthyroidism: It occurs when your parathyroid glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone. The condition can escalate the amount of calcium in your blood.
  • Osteitis derformans: It is a rare chronic bone disorder triggered by excessive regrowth and breakdown in the affected bones.
  • Bone metastasis: It occurs due to the spread of cancer cells from other parts of the body to the bones. 

High ALP levels also indicate the presence of untreated celiac disease.

What Do Low ALP Levels in Blood Test Results Indicate?

An abnormally low level of ALP is usually rare compared to having an elevated level. It usually indicates the following:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Malnutrition
  • Rare genetic conditions like Wilson disease and hypophosphatasia

Do You Need to Be Concerned About High or Low Levels of ALP?

An abnormal level of ALP in your body does not always mean you are suffering from a serious medical condition. Your doctor will consider several factors before determining whether you need to undergo further tests. Some crucial factors considered by doctors to proceed further after your ALP test results are as follows:

  • Your medical history
  • Medications you are taking at the moment
  • Symptoms that you might be experiencing
  • Results of other tests performed along with the ALP test
  • How high or low are your ALP test results are

Closing Thoughts

Sometimes an error in the collection or processing of the test might also lead to abnormal results. Therefore, you should always choose a reliable lab for your tests. You will be bearing an affordable alkaline phosphatase test price and receive accurate results within a short time.