What is an amylase blood test?

n amylase blood test measures the amount of amylase in a person’s blood. Abnormal levels of amylase may indicate pancreatitis or another problem with the pancreas.


Amylase is a digestive enzyme that helps the body break down carbohydrates. Both the salivary glands and the pancreas produce amylase. Several different medical conditions can affect amylase levels in the blood.

Doctors can also use a urine test to check a person’s amylase levels.

In this article, we explore the conditions that doctors might diagnose using amylase blood tests and explain how to prepare for the test and what to expect. We also cover what the normal amylase range is and what high and low levels can mean.


When is it used?

A variety of medical conditions can affect amylase levels in the blood.

The primary producers of amylase in the body are the pancreas and the salivary glands in the mouth. Approximately 40 percent of the amylase in the blood comes from the pancreas, which means that amylase blood tests can help diagnose conditions that affect the pancreas.

Doctors use amylase blood tests to diagnose or monitor the following conditions.


Doctors commonly use amylase blood tests to diagnose or monitor people with acute pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis can be acute, meaning that a person has the condition for a short period, or chronic, which means that the inflammation is longer-term or recurring.

Pancreatitis can cause severe abdominal pain and swelling. Other symptoms can include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes

To help diagnose pancreatitis, a doctor may order an amylase blood test. Abnormally high or low levels of amylase in the blood can be a sign that a person has pancreatitis.

Other tests for pancreatitis may include:

  • Imagining tests, such as a CT scan, MRI scan, or ultrasound. These tests create images of the inside of the body, allowing a doctor to look for signs of inflammation and determine its severity.
  • Lipase blood tests. The pancreas also produces a digestive enzyme called lipase. Abnormal levels of lipase can also be a sign of pancreatitis.

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