As the body’s largest internal organ, the liver is responsible for important bodily functions. This ranges from fighting infections to breaking down medications and digesting food. Your liver may produce an increase in enzymes when there is something wrong.
Liver enzymes can rise for a variety of reasons, and elevated liver enzymes can be the result of both side effects from medications and health conditions. Whether Zantac actually leads to elevated liver enzymes is unknown, but ranitidine products have been linked to liver damage in rare cases.
What’s more, unsafe levels of a probable human carcinogen were detected in ranitidine products in September 2019. The health effects of the potentially cancerous chemical, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), have been studied for years. What studies suggest is that NDMA may contribute to liver disease or cancer.
The Link Between Zantac And Liver Damage
According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to high levels of NDMA can cause liver damage. Mice, rats, and other lab animals exposed to NDMA for long periods of time developed liver problems, including reduced function and tumors.
Researchers assume that the damage caused to the livers of lab animals may also be the case in human beings exposed to NDMA for long periods of time. Researchers are worried about unsafe levels of NDMA in ranitidine products because the chemical may cause the body to produce excess levels of NDMA when ingested.
While earlier recalls of other medications involving NDMA, like Valsartan, were found to be the result of a faulty manufacturing process, the NDMA detected in ranitidine may form in the stomach because of the medication’s inherent chemical structure.
How Ranitidine Is Metabolized In The Liver
Generic Zantac, or ranitidine, is a histamine H-2 receptor antagonist. It’s used to treat and prevent health conditions associated with gastric acid. The medication is metabolized, or broken down, by the liver.
Once in the liver, enzymes convert the medication into active metabolites. Any injury caused by metabolizing ranitidine could be the result of a toxic chemical reaction. The liver metabolizes ranitidine via a specific group of drug-metabolizing enzymes (P450).
What Are Liver Enzymes?
There are several different enzymes in the liver. An enzyme is a substance that speeds up chemical reactions in the body. Elevated liver enzymes may be a cause for concern because they can indicate injured or inflamed liver cells.
Once liver cells are injured or inflamed, they leak above-normal amounts of liver enzymes into the bloodstream, which is why elevated liver enzymes may show up on blood tests and suggest there is a problem with your liver.
Although elevated liver enzymes detected in a blood test can signal a serious liver problem, enzymes may only be temporarily elevated. Your doctor may order a blood test for elevated liver enzymes if you have symptoms that suggest liver damage or disease.
How Liver Enzymes Are Detected
Any type of liver damage is detected by a blood test. To monitor the liver, the most common test is called a liver panel. This panel consists of several blood tests that can detect liver damage.
The panel will test for elevated liver enzymes that include:
- aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
- alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
- alkaline phosphatase (AP)
Common Causes Of Elevated Liver Enzymes
There are a variety of medical conditions and diseases that may contribute to elevated liver enzymes. To determine the cause, your doctor may examine your symptoms, review any medications your taking, and possibly order further tests.
Some diseases or medical conditions can cause elevated liver enzymes, including:
- fatty liver disease, or a buildup of certain fats in the liver
- drug or alcohol abuse
- metabolic syndrome
Liver enzymes may also increase due to a variety of other health conditions, including celiac disease and liver cancer. Certain medications, including statins and pain relievers, can also lead to elevated liver enzymes.
Medications And Liver Damage
Although instances may be rare, some medications may damage the liver. Like Zantac, some medications thought to be safe are eventually associated with liver damage after millions of people take the medication and experience adverse health effects.
Common medications that can cause liver damage include:
- Tylenol (acetaminophen)
- cholesterol-lowering medications (statins)
- supplements and herbs
- medications used for liver disease
To find out if your liver enzyme levels are higher than what they should be after you take medication, your doctor will establish a baseline of enzymes. Physicians are most concerned when medication-induced liver damage leads to levels of ALT and AST enzymes that rise above 3-5 times the baseline level.
Signs And Symptoms Of Elevated Liver Enzymes
Since elevated liver enzymes are asymptomatic, they show no signs or symptoms on their own. However, a doctor will check for signs and symptoms of the underlying conditions that may be responsible for the spike in the liver enzymes.
Consider symptoms associated with liver disease:
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- discomfort of the abdomen
- dark urine
- loss of appetite
- generalized itching
A doctor may also issue a liver enzyme test if you:
- have diabetes
- suffer from weight problems or obesity
- have a history of liver disease in your family
- abuse drugs or alcohol
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What To Do If You Have Liver Disease And Have Taken Zantac
If there is a risk that a medication could be harmful to the liver or people with liver disease, there should be a warning on the drug label. Zantac manufacturers failed to adequately update the drug label to warn about the risk of liver cancer or disease, which may qualify you for a lawsuit. This is especially true if you developed liver disease after taking Zantac for longer than one year.
After meeting with your doctor for treatment, consider consulting with an attorney.
An attorney can help you determine if you qualify for a Zantac lawsuit, where you’ll need to:
- prove you took Zantac or other ranitidine products
- show you developed liver disease or cancer
- prove there is a connection between your liver disease and Zantac use
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Contact Florin|Roebig For A Free Case Evaluation
It can be difficult to know if you should move forward with a Zantac lawsuit. There can be many causes of increased liver enzymes, liver disease, or liver cancer. At Florin|Roebig, we offer free case evaluations to help you decide if you should pursue filing a Zantac claim.
Our team of qualified dangerous drug lawsuit attorneys will examine the specific details of your claim to make sure moving forward with your case is worth your time and effort. To learn more about Zantac lawsuits, or to start your free case evaluation, contact Florin|Roebig today.