What Are the Common Causes of Elevated Amylase?

Meshell Powell

Pancreatitis, or an inflammation of the pancreas, is the most common reason for elevated amylase levels, although other medical issues may also involve this symptom. Some of the possible reasons for abnormally high levels of amylase in the blood include intestinal disorders, salivary gland inflammation, or female reproductive disorders. Additional causes of elevated levels include inflammation of the gallbladder or kidney failure. Questions or concerns about the reason for elevated amylase levels should be directed to a qualified physician.

Additional causes of elevated amylase include kidney failure.
Additional causes of elevated amylase include kidney failure.

Inflammation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis and is the reason for elevated amylase levels in most situations. Symptoms of pancreatitis may include abdominal pain, fever, or nausea and requires immediate medical attention. Other pancreatic problems, including physical trauma and the development of pseudocysts, can sometimes lead to an increase in amylase levels.

Pancreatic cancer can cause high amylase levels.
Pancreatic cancer can cause high amylase levels.

A variety of intestinal disorders can result in elevated amylase levels, including appendicitis, peritonitis, and intestinal obstructions. Appendicitis is a medical term used to describe inflammation of the appendix, while peritonitis refers to inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity. Intestinal obstructions are blockages that may occur due to the presence of tumors, twisting of the intestines, or the development of scar tissue.

Appendicitis can result in elevated amylase levels.
Appendicitis can result in elevated amylase levels.

Parotitis is the inflammation of the salivary glands and may be caused by factors such as infection or the use of certain drugs. Disorders of the reproductive system, including ovarian cysts or a ruptured fallopian tube, may also cause elevated amylase levels. Ovarian cysts are abnormal fluid-filled sacs that sometimes develop inside one or both ovaries. A ruptured fallopian tube typically occurs as a result of an ectopic pregnancy, a condition originating from a fertilized egg becoming stuck inside the tube.

Inflammation of the gallbladder can cause elevated amylase.
Inflammation of the gallbladder can cause elevated amylase.

Cholecystitis is a term used to describe the inflammation of the gallbladder, often caused by the presence of gallstones. Upper right abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting are the typical symptoms of gallbladder inflammation. Treatment usually involves the surgical removal of the gallbladder, although prescription medications and dietary changes may sometimes prove helpful.

Ovarian cysts can cause elevated amylase levels.
Ovarian cysts can cause elevated amylase levels.

Chronic kidney disease and renal failure are sometimes responsible for elevated amylase levels. As the kidneys begin to function less efficiently, a variety of enzyme levels become elevated. Dietary changes and prescription medications may be used to combat this symptom, and some kidney patients may experience positive results from the use of a procedure known as dialysis. This medical procedure is performed by connecting the patient to a machine that removes the blood from the body, where it is filtered and cleaned before being returned to the body.

Inflammation of the gallbladder usually requires the removal of the organ.
Inflammation of the gallbladder usually requires the removal of the organ.

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Discussion Comments


My mother has a amylase level of 239 and it goes up and down. She drinks very little but my Dad died last year and she's on depression medication. Could that be it? Her stomach doc says she doesn't have pancreatitis. Help.


I'm a 38 year old woman. I have been feeling under the weather for the last four to six months. I've attributed it to a lot of stress at work, etc. I have lost about 9 pounds since October 2012. I also get very frequent headaches, probably three or four times a week. I have also had very frequent bowel movements for the past three or four months -- sometimes three or four times a day. The stools are not loose but they are not well formed. There is some degree of nausea and lack of appetite.

I went to my primary care physician's office last week. He ordered a host of blood tests as well as stool tests.I haven't given the stool sample for processing yet, but for the blood tests- most were not significant except my Serum Amylase and ESR. My Amylase: 505 U/L; ESR: 43 mm/H.

I've always had a low hemoglobin. Its currently at 11.4 (I have a thallasemic trait). Iron stores are fine.

I have an abdominal ultrasound scheduled for Wednesday. Any advice from the community would be appreciated. I am worried and want to find out what's going on.


I have elevated amylase and lipase but am having no pain, fever, diarrhea, etc. My doc wants me to get an abdominal ultrasound and CT scan of my abdomen. Is it possible that statins can raise amylase and lipase? Before my most recent blood work they were at normal levels.

I have been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and I never drink. Can somebody please tell me what's going on? A cyst on my pancreas? Pancreatitis? Gallbladder disease?


I'm fed up with the docs keep asking me if I drink as I don't -- as if that would be the only reason as to why I have high amylase. I have had an ongoing pain in my right side for 20 years and they don't come up with anything except high amylase and do I drink!


Can the use of alcohol or certain medications cause temporarily elevated amylase? My amylase levels were high in one test but were normal in a second test three days later.


@anamur-- Are your other enzyme levels normal?

I know that high amylase and high lipase (another pancreatic enzyme) are signs of pancreatitis.

My pancreatitis was diagnosed with blood tests followed by a CT scan so I'm glad you're getting that soon.

I took anti-inflammatory medications for my pancreatitis and it mostly recovered on its own. Don't jump to any conclusions, just let your doctor figure it out.


I just found out from my doctor that my blood tests have come back and amylase levels are higher than normal. He wants me to have a tomography early next week to figure out what's going on.

I don't have any major symptoms. I feel some soreness and bloating in my abdominal area but that's it. Unfortunately, this doesn't give me enough clues to guess what might be wrong with me.

I had no idea that elevated amylase could be due to so many different problems. I hope that I don't have anything serious.

Is anyone else in the same situation right now? What kind of testing is your doctor requesting for a diagnosis?

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