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Liver & Pancreas Disorders Message Board


Liver & Pancreas Disorders Board Index


I'm grasping at straws on how to approach a health issue I've been dealing with for the past 6-8 months or so. This board seems to be as good a forum as any but if there is somewhere online better suited to seek advice with these problems please feel free to direct me there. This post could have gone under a few different forums on this board alone, but when you're talking amylase/lipase the pancreas is the main concern. I honestly don't know if this is a pancreas problem though. This is going to be a lot to read, and I thank anyone in advance that takes the time to do so and share any feedback.

I'm a male in my early 30s generally in good health. I had a stretch of about 10 days earlier this year where my bowel movements increased from the normal once per day, to 3-5 times per day. I was very concerned and my doctor suspected IBS, but after some blood work she saw that my amylase was in the 500 level and sent me to get a CAT scan. She did not let me know that my lipase was normal though, and after reading online about elevated amylase I jumped to the conclusion I probably had pancreatitis. I do enjoy drinking alcohol on a regular basis and this period of irregular bowel movements did come around the time of a particularly bad weekend in terms of my alcohol consumption. I figured that a decade of drinking had probably done this to my pancreas.

When I went to the hospital for the CAT scan the technician thought it was strange that my script just with the barium milkshake prep and not with an imaging injection. She almost tried to convince me to go ahead and get the imaging anyway to eliminate the need to come back and do the scan again with it. I thought this was outside of the area of expertise of the technician to decide and told her so. She went and consulted with the doctor who was going to review the scan and he confirmed that I just needed the barium drink milkshakes and they had me chug even more to get the best scan possible (that stuff is less than pleasant).

From there I went to a GI specialist where I was seen by a nurse practitioner. She was also consulting with a doctor on staff (no appointments were available with a doctor in the immediate future at the time). By the time of this appointment my bowel movements had returned to normal. I should note that I had no other unusual symptoms during this time period, no pain, cramping, nausea or anything of that nature. When I explained this to the nurse practitioner, and she reviewed my blood work and the CAT scan, she basically told me there was no reason she could see why my amylase was so elevated. This was the first time I found out that my lipase levels were in fact normal so pancreatitis was unlikely (wish my doctor knew this because I had worked myself up that I definitely had it for the 2-3 weeks this was going on). The CAT scan results were completely normal, or "unremarkable" as the terminology goes. After examining my abdomen and reviewing with me the lack of other symptoms, the nurse practitioner said the other possible culprits, such as ulcers, liver problems, cancer, etc were unlikely. She spoke with the doctor and came back and let me know the most likely scenario was either that this was a one time anomaly, or that I had a condition called macroamylasemia which is benign and causes elevated amylase levels. Either way she did not think I had much cause for concern. She wrote a script for me to take a 24 hour urine sample to check for amylase levels there, and to get more blood work in a month or so. She also pointed out that if I have macroamylasemia my amylase levels have probably been elevated for a while and were most likely unrelated to the stretch of irregular bowel movements I had.

The urine test came back normal but the blood work had my amylase levels still in the 400 levels. At this point I was told to go back to the GI specialist but I didn't understand why. Maybe the nurse practitioner did not explain this well, but from what she told me there wasn't much more they could do for me in this situation. I don't believe there is a way to test for macroamylasemia, although as I said I may be mistaken. As my symptoms had subsided and I was at a point in my health insurance where I'd be paying 100% out of pocket up until October, I made the decision not to go back to the GI specialist. My logic being we were probably going to need to start a whole new batch of tests and in the end I was skeptical that they would provide any new information. I told myself if my symptoms returned I would address it then.

Now I have noticed as I've gotten older that the day after drinking I tend to have much high frequency of bowel movements. And since Thanksgiving I've had another stretch of time where my bowel movements have noticeably increased for the first time consistently since the first episode 6-8 months back. While I do think the most likely scenario is that I have macroamylasemia, I also don't doubt that the drinking I've done has taken its toll on my body and my bowel issues could be related. This period since Thanksgiving hasn't been a constant problem every day and hasn't been as bad as the previous stretch, so I'm not as concerned about it. But I do coincidentally have an appointment with my doctor coming up later this week just for a check up. I'm not sure how to approach these problems with her. Past another CAT scan with imaging, I don't know what else can be done to determine what's going on with me. And for the problems I'm having, I'm not certain what the imaging will show that the previous scan did not show? Maybe a more detailed look at my liver? With my insurance I'm back at a point where I can easily afford some expensive work, but I don't want to do it just for the sake of having it done and then hit that donut hole in my coverage again.

Once again I'm very thankful for anyone who takes the time to read all of that and give me any feedback. Half of me feels like I'm making too big deal out of this and that I'm probably just a normal male around this age who has indulged in a bachelor lifestyle and whose body can't handle the abuse I've put it through the same way I could in my 20s. But the other half of me is concerned I'm ignoring what could be a potentially very serious problem.
[QUOTE=TBu443;5098142]I'm grasping at straws on how to approach a health issue I've been dealing with for the past 6-8 months or so. This board seems to be as good a forum as any but if there is somewhere online better suited to seek advice with these problems please feel free to direct me there. This post could have gone under a few different forums on this board alone, but when you're talking amylase/lipase the pancreas is the main concern. I honestly don't know if this is a pancreas problem though. This is going to be a lot to read, and I thank anyone in advance that takes the time to do so and share any feedback.

I'm a male in my early 30s generally in good health. I had a stretch of about 10 days earlier this year where my bowel movements increased from the normal once per day, to 3-5 times per day. I was very concerned and my doctor suspected IBS, but after some blood work she saw that my amylase was in the 500 level and sent me to get a CAT scan. She did not let me know that my lipase was normal though, and after reading online about elevated amylase I jumped to the conclusion I probably had pancreatitis. I do enjoy drinking alcohol on a regular basis and this period of irregular bowel movements did come around the time of a particularly bad weekend in terms of my alcohol consumption. I figured that a decade of drinking had probably done this to my pancreas.

When I went to the hospital for the CAT scan the technician thought it was strange that my script just with the barium milkshake prep and not with an imaging injection. She almost tried to convince me to go ahead and get the imaging anyway to eliminate the need to come back and do the scan again with it. I thought this was outside of the area of expertise of the technician to decide and told her so. She went and consulted with the doctor who was going to review the scan and he confirmed that I just needed the barium drink milkshakes and they had me chug even more to get the best scan possible (that stuff is less than pleasant).

From there I went to a GI specialist where I was seen by a nurse practitioner. She was also consulting with a doctor on staff (no appointments were available with a doctor in the immediate future at the time). By the time of this appointment my bowel movements had returned to normal. I should note that I had no other unusual symptoms during this time period, no pain, cramping, nausea or anything of that nature. When I explained this to the nurse practitioner, and she reviewed my blood work and the CAT scan, she basically told me there was no reason she could see why my amylase was so elevated. This was the first time I found out that my lipase levels were in fact normal so pancreatitis was unlikely (wish my doctor knew this because I had worked myself up that I definitely had it for the 2-3 weeks this was going on). The CAT scan results were completely normal, or "unremarkable" as the terminology goes. After examining my abdomen and reviewing with me the lack of other symptoms, the nurse practitioner said the other possible culprits, such as ulcers, liver problems, cancer, etc were unlikely. She spoke with the doctor and came back and let me know the most likely scenario was either that this was a one time anomaly, or that I had a condition called macroamylasemia which is benign and causes elevated amylase levels. Either way she did not think I had much cause for concern. She wrote a script for me to take a 24 hour urine sample to check for amylase levels there, and to get more blood work in a month or so. She also pointed out that if I have macroamylasemia my amylase levels have probably been elevated for a while and were most likely unrelated to the stretch of irregular bowel movements I had.

The urine test came back normal but the blood work had my amylase levels still in the 400 levels. At this point I was told to go back to the GI specialist but I didn't understand why. Maybe the nurse practitioner did not explain this well, but from what she told me there wasn't much more they could do for me in this situation. I don't believe there is a way to test for macroamylasemia, although as I said I may be mistaken. As my symptoms had subsided and I was at a point in my health insurance where I'd be paying 100% out of pocket up until October, I made the decision not to go back to the GI specialist. My logic being we were probably going to need to start a whole new batch of tests and in the end I was skeptical that they would provide any new information. I told myself if my symptoms returned I would address it then.

Now I have noticed as I've gotten older that the day after drinking I tend to have much high frequency of bowel movements. And since Thanksgiving I've had another stretch of time where my bowel movements have noticeably increased for the first time consistently since the first episode 6-8 months back. While I do think the most likely scenario is that I have macroamylasemia, I also don't doubt that the drinking I've done has taken its toll on my body and my bowel issues could be related. This period since Thanksgiving hasn't been a constant problem every day and hasn't been as bad as the previous stretch, so I'm not as concerned about it. But I do coincidentally have an appointment with my doctor coming up later this week just for a check up. I'm not sure how to approach these problems with her. Past another CAT scan with imaging, I don't know what else can be done to determine what's going on with me. And for the problems I'm having, I'm not certain what the imaging will show that the previous scan did not show? Maybe a more detailed look at my liver? With my insurance I'm back at a point where I can easily afford some expensive work, but I don't want to do it just for the sake of having it done and then hit that donut hole in my coverage again.

Once again I'm very thankful for anyone who takes the time to read all of that and give me any feedback. Half of me feels like I'm making too big deal out of this and that I'm probably just a normal male around this age who has indulged in a bachelor lifestyle and whose body can't handle the abuse I've put it through the same way I could in my 20s. But the other half of me is concerned I'm ignoring what could be a potentially very serious problem.[/QUOTE]

Hello,

I am interested in your situation (though sorry you are stressed over it). I am in my mid 40's though, and female. I am a healthy weight and eat a healthy vegetarian diet. My "bachelorette" days are behind me so for me it's little or no alcohol.

Regardless of our differences though, we seem to be in the same (or a similar boat). About 3 yrs ago I went to a new dr who is the first to test for amylase. Mine was high, around 245 although lipase was normal. Like you, I went for a barrage of scary tests (including an MRI) of the pancreas, etc. All were normal.

Over the last 3 years I've had it tested regularly and while it fluctuates slightly up and down, it never is anywhere near normal.

My doctor is perplexed but unworried. At first he thought it was linked to cholesterol, but when my cholesterol goes down, the amylase goes up! My cholesterol is normal.

I have no other health issues that I know of besides hay fever. The doctor wonders if perhaps I eat a bit too much carbs because the amylase is utilized in carb digestion. He thinks I might eat less of them and see what happens.

I am also gluten free (!) for several years and although I eat some carbs I definitely don't overdo and maintain a fit weight. I work out too so I feel a bit "entitled" to the limited carbs I do consume. Basically, I'm not up for a carb free life so I don't think we'll do that experiment.

Today I got results from my latest blood tests. Everything in normal range but amylase had gone up from 195 at my last visit to 245.

I hope it simply comforts you to know someone else is concerned about it as well, and has been for 3 years! It's weird knowing something is "way off" and not being able to know why. I'm very big on knowing why and taking action, so this is frustrating! But if there are no associated problems, I guess we just live with it and try not to worry.

I'd be curious to know if several months later you still have elevated amylase?

Good luck and best wishes!





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