Curious How Mindful Drinking Can Help You Thrive? 🎉🙌
Click Here
Alcohol and Health

How To Check Liver Function at Home

April 11, 2024
18 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
April 11, 2024
18 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
April 11, 2024
18 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
April 11, 2024
18 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
April 11, 2024
18 min read

A Guide to At-Home Liver Tests

  • Proper liver function is essential for overall health, but we may not always have time to go to the doctor’s office to have it tested. 
  • Luckily, a range of at-home liver test options are available that allow you to monitor your liver health from the comfort of your home.
  • Reframe offers science-backed readings about alcohol’s effects on well-being so you can prioritize your liver health (and overall health).

Compared to the beloved brain or the hallowed heart, the liver is no ostentatious organ. It’s fairly easy to ignore, and we don’t have as many health fads reminding us to check on it. 

Fortunately, with the rise of at-home conveniences, it’s now easier than ever to monitor your liver health. You may have seen at-home liver test kits pop up during your search about liver health. So, are you wondering if they really work or what they entail? Let’s walk through our guide to proper liver function and how to test liver health at home.

What Does Our Liver Do?

Located just above our stomach, our liver is the largest solid organ in our body. Our liver is commonly known for its role in metabolizing alcohol but is responsible for so many other primary functions in our body:

  • Filtering blood. Our liver filters our blood by removing toxins and other harmful substances — converting them into waste products.
  • Assisting with blood clotting. Essential proteins are produced in the liver and used in blood clotting to prevent us from losing too much blood.
  • Creating bile. Bile is essential for digestion and helps to break down food. This helps our body make use of the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that we consume.
  • Fighting infections. Our liver houses macrophages, cells that remove bacteria and other harmful organisms, which is essential for fighting off infections and keeping us healthy.

Our liver does so much in our body — requiring proper functioning to maintain our overall health. Let’s take a look at some factors that can influence our liver health.

What Affects Our Liver Health?

Signs of liver disease or dysfunction may take time to appear. Being aware of the factors that affect our liver health can help us prevent dysfunction. Let’s consider the following factors that influence our liver health:

  • Alcohol. The toxins in alcohol cause liver cell damage each time the liver works to metabolize it. Over time, liver cells will not be able to regenerate properly — resulting in permanent liver damage. Alcohol can also lead to a buildup of fats, which affects proper liver function. This is known as alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Diet and weight. An unhealthy diet can lead to excess weight gain. This can lead to excess fat buildup in the liver, affecting proper liver function. 
  • High cholesterol. The cholesterol we consume ends up mostly in the liver. An excess can increase the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Diabetes. High blood glucose levels cause cell damage, affecting organs like our liver.

We’ve established that many different elements can impact our liver health, but let’s explore some ways we can detect potential problems.

Indicators of Liver Dysfunction or Liver Disease

Liver disease is often not detected until serious symptoms arise. Learning to identify signs of liver dysfunction helps us determine if we need to test our liver function at home. The following are signs to watch for: 

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Jaundice
  • Itchy skin
  • Low libido
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Swelling of the ankles/legs

If we experience any of these symptoms and are concerned about our liver health, it might be worth testing our liver health.

What Are Liver Function Tests?

Liver function tests are blood tests that look at specific proteins and enzymes in our blood to help determine the functioning of our liver. Too much or too little of the proteins and enzymes that the liver function test checks for can suggest liver disease or dysfunction.

A liver panel can vary in the proteins and enzymes that are tested. The common liver function tests in a liver panel include the following: 

  • Alanine transaminase (ALT). ALT tests check for acute liver cell damage by detecting ALT enzyme levels in our blood.
  • Aspartate transaminase (AST). AST is another enzyme released after liver cell damage that suggests liver or heart problems. 
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). This enzyme, found in high concentrations in liver tissue, can be tested to help detect liver tumors and abscesses. 
  • Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). GGT is produced in the liver, pancreas, and biliary tract. This test can check liver function and detect alcohol absorption.
  • Serum bilirubin. This test checks for the proper processing of bile in our liver.
  • International normalized ratio (INR). The INR test determines the time it takes for our blood to clot. Since our liver produces essential proteins necessary for blood clotting, this test can help detect abnormal liver functioning.
  • Albumin. Low levels of this protein found in our blood can be an indicator of liver dysfunction. It is one of the primary tests used to diagnose liver disease.
  • Total protein. This test measures the level of proteins in our blood. The test is typically used as part of a comprehensive liver panel, as abnormal levels can indicate liver disease.

Now that we’ve determined reasons to check our liver function, let’s explore some ways we can get a liver function test.

How To Check Liver Health at Home

How Can I Get a Liver Panel?

Our primary care physician can request a liver panel. If a liver function test is needed, we will be ordered to complete a blood test to detect any abnormalities. The test is typically performed in a laboratory, clinic, hospital, or doctor’s office. If ordered by a physician, some insurance policies may cover the cost of the panel. There may be a copayment, but the exact cost and policy will vary depending on the insurance.

A liver panel is easily requested from a practitioner, but some of us may be looking for other options. 

Can I Complete a Liver Test at Home?

A liver function test can be purchased online, completed at home, and referred to a lab for sample collection. Unlike lab tests, which typically involve a full blood draw, at-home testing kits mainly require a skin prick. Once the sample is taken, it is sent to a lab for analysis.

At-home liver function test costs can range from $30-$200, depending on the thoroughness of the panels. With prices as low as $30, it almost sounds too good to be true. We may be left questioning if at-home liver testing kits actually work.

Do At-Home Liver Function Tests Work?

Studies show that at-home liver function tests are effective and can help detect acute liver injury. At-home testing kits commonly check for the same proteins and enzymes in laboratory liver panels; however, at-home liver tests may not be as comprehensive or as accurate as in-clinic tests. The small, pinprick blood sample limits the range of at-home tests. 

Results may also vary in accuracy depending on the brand of the test and the lab where the results are processed. The reports commonly indicate abnormalities by showing results “out of normal range.” However, this may not always indicate the level of dysfunction and does not provide details on potential issues. If we have serious concerns about our liver health, it’s best to skip the at-home test and see a doctor.

At-home liver function tests are most optimal for those of us who want to maintain frequent liver health checks. The tests can also be helpful for those of us who are worried about potential side effects from medication or who struggle with alcohol misuse. For those of us who have determined that at-home liver tests can be beneficial, let’s walk through the steps on how to complete one.

How To Check Liver Function at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide

Before attempting to check our liver health at home, it’s important to determine if an at-home liver function test is appropriate for our personal needs. Consulting with a physician regarding serious concerns is recommended. For those who may benefit from an at-home liver test, let’s walk through a step-by-step guide to completing a liver health check at home.

  1. Choose an at-home liver test. Liver function tests can vary by the specific proteins and enzymes that are tested. Determining how comprehensively we want to test our liver health can help us decide which liver test to purchase.
  2. Read specific instructions. The instructions on liver function tests will differ. Some comprehensive tests require fasting, and less thorough tests typically do not. Completing the test as instructed ensures the results are as accurate as possible.
  3. Gather the sample. Following the instructions carefully, the next step is to obtain the sample. At-home tests typically require a simple skin prick. 
  4. Send the sample for analysis. Depending on the test, we will be directed to send the sample to the appropriate lab for analysis. There, the blood sample will be analyzed for any abnormalities the panel tests for. 
  5. Review results. Once the lab completes the analysis, we will receive the results of the test. The results will indicate if our results fall inside or outside of the normal range. 
  6. Consult a doctor. If abnormalities are detected, or if we continue to have concerns regarding our liver health, it is best to consult with a physician for further guidance. 

Regular liver checks help to detect dysfunction and disease, but we can also implement strategies to help maintain a healthy liver.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Liver

Aside from checking our liver health from time to time, we can take other initiatives to improve and maintain healthy liver function. Let’s explore several different habits we can implement to improve our liver health:

  • Limit alcohol intake. Cutting back on alcohol reduces the chance of liver cell damage. Set limits to help cut back on alcohol or try alcohol-free alternatives to eliminate alcohol-related liver damage.
  • Maintain a balanced diet. Eating a healthy diet is essential for optimal body functions and can help us maintain a healthy weight. This helps us reduce the risk of developing fatty liver disease. Focus on a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, and lean proteins. 
  • Exercise. Physical activity helps to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and prevent excess fat buildup in the liver. It is helpful to find enjoyable ways to participate in daily movement to create sustainable habits. Try walking on a new scenic route or gathering friends and family to try a new dance class.
  • Avoid smoking. Toxins in cigarettes can lead to liver inflammation and scarring. Over time, smoking can also increase the risk of liver cancer and fatty liver disease. Treatment or support should be explored if smoking habits are a concern.
  • Get vaccinated. Viral liver infections, including Hepatitis A and B, can be prevented through vaccinations. 

Breaking It Down

“A healthy liver keeps the doctor away.” While that’s not exactly how the saying goes, it remains true that proper liver function is essential for our overall health. At-home liver function tests can help us check for any abnormalities without having to set foot in a doctor’s office. While consulting with a physician is always recommended when we are concerned about our health, at-home tests can be a convenient tool for maintaining regular liver health checks. Looking into your liver health can be just a click away.

Summary FAQs 

1. How do I know if I need a liver function test?

Indicators such as fatigue, loss of appetite, and jaundice can suggest abnormal liver function.

2. Can I check my liver health from the comfort of my own home?

Several varieties of liver function tests can be used at home.

3. Does an at-home liver function test work?

While at-home liver function tests do work, they may not be as comprehensive as in-person blood work panels. There may also be inconsistencies between the types of liver testing kits and the labs in which the results are processed. 

4. Do I need to fast for an at-home liver test?

It will depend on the type of test purchased. Less comprehensive tests typically don’t require fasting, but more thorough tests typically do. Be sure to check the directions on the testing kit that you choose. 

5. How do I read my at-home liver test results?

Reports will typically depict if your results are inside or outside the normal range. Outside the normal range suggests abnormal function, and it would be best to consult with your physician.

Show Your Heart Some Love by Quitting or Cutting Back on Alcohol With Reframe!

You’ve come to the right place! Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 forum and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

Call to action to download reframe app for ios usersCall to action to download reframe app for android users
Reframe has helped over 2 millions people to build healthier drinking habits globally
Take The Quiz
Our Editorial Standards
At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
Learn more
Updated Regularly
Our articles undergo frequent updates to present the newest scientific research and changes in expert consensus in an easily understandable and implementable manner.

Table of Contents
Call to action for signing up reframe app
Relevant Articles
No items found.
Ready to meet the BEST version of yourself?
Start Your Custom Plan
Call to action to download reframe app for ios usersCall to action to download reframe app for android users
5 Star Reviews
Downloads (as of 2023)
a bottle and a glass
Drinks Eliminated

Scan the QR code to get started!

Reframe supports you in reducing alcohol consumption and enhancing your well-being.

Ready To Meet the Best Version of Yourself?
3,250,000+ Downloads (as of 2023)
31,364 Reviews
500,000,000+ Drinks eliminated
Try Reframe for 7 Days Free! Scan to download the App