This enzyme converts starch into sugar, and high levels can suggest inflammation of the pancreas.
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PREPARATION: Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours before the test. You should also not eat or drink anything except water for at least 2 hours before having the test.
What does this test do?
This test determines the concentration of amylase circulating in the bloodstream.
Why is this important?
Amylase is a digestive enzyme that breaks down long chains of carbohydrates (or starches) into simple sugars. It is produced by the salivary glands, and immediately begins digesting the food that we chew – which is why starchy foods like rice and potatoes become sweeter the longer they’re held in the mouth. Amylase is also produced by the pancreas and secreted into the intestine, where it finishes processing the starches that survived the trip down the esophagus.
What do the results mean?
High amylase levels can indicate problems with the stomach, intestines, or ovaries, but are most commonly used to help diagnose pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by inflammation of the pancreas. Elevated levels of amylase can also indicate inflammation of the salivary glands caused by bacterial infections, or viral illnesses as the mumps.