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AST is used to detect liver damage and/or to help diagnose liver disease.  An AST test is ordered along with several other tests to evaluate a person who has signs and symptoms of a liver disorder. Some of these symptoms include:
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Abdominal swelling and/or pain
  • Jaundice
  • Dark urine, light colored stool
  • Itching (pruritus)

AST may also be ordered, either by itself or with other tests, for people who are at an increased risk for liver disease. Some examples include:

  • Persons who might have been exposed to hepatitis viruses
  • Those who are heavy drinkers
  • Persons who have a history of liver disease in their family
  • Persons taking drugs that can occasionally damage the liver
  • Persons who are overweight and/or have diabetes

Persons who have mild symptoms, such as fatigue, may be tested for ALT to make sure they do not have chronic liver disease.

When AST is used to monitor treatment of persons with liver disease, it may be ordered on a regular basis during the course of treatment to determine whether the therapy is effective.

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