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Amylase Test

What is an amylase test?

The amylase test is a blood test. It measures the amount of an enzyme called amylase in your blood. Enzymes are chemicals that help the cells of your body work.

Amylase is made by the pancreas (an organ in your upper belly behind your stomach) and by the glands in your mouth that make saliva. Amylase helps you digest starchy carbohydrates, such as bread, corn, and potatoes.

Why is it done?

Usually the test is done to check for problems with your pancreas. For example, it may be done to check for pancreatitis, which is swelling and irritation of the pancreas. The pancreas makes digestive enzymes and insulin. The digestive enzymes flow into the small intestine to help your body break down food. Insulin goes into the blood to control the level of sugar in your blood.

This test may also be done if the glands in your mouth are swollen or tender. It can check for infection or inflammation.

How do I prepare for this test?

You may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that you are taking. Ask your provider before stopping any of your regular medicines.

Talk to your provider if you have any questions about the test.

How is the test done?

Having this test will take just a few minutes. A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your test.

What does the test result mean?

A high level of amylase may be caused by:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallstones
  • An ulcer that has made a hole in the stomach and is irritating the pancreas
  • High levels of triglyceride (a type of blood fat)
  • Infection or swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the glands in your mouth, for example, mumps
  • A medicine you have taken
  • Cancer of the pancreas

What if my test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about your result and ask questions such as:

  • If you need more tests
  • What kind of treatment you might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes you might need to make
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-02-11
Last reviewed: 2014-02-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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