Normal Albumin Levels, Low and High

Albumin is produced in the liver and is the most common protein you find in blood. This substance provides the body with proteins for growth and tissue repair. Albumin also helps in movement of small molecules in the blood such as bilirubin, progesterone, calcium, and medications. Albumin test is frequently assessed when evaluating a person’s general health status. The levels of albumin can be low in different circumstances such as presence of diseases and disorders. 

Why albumin test is performed

A test may be performed to help diagnose diseases as well as monitor and evaluate changes in the health of a patient. Patients receiving treatment of diseases such as liver or kidney complications may require albumin test. The test may show how a disease is progressing after treatment and the screening could indicate the need for other types of tests. 

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A serum albumin test is used to measure the amount or concentration of this protein in the clear liquid fluid of the blood or plasma. Both albumin and microalbumin have same molecules but they are different from prealbumin, which has completely unrelated molecule. An albumin test is often used to test for liver and kidney disorders. It is also used to determine if the body is absorbing sufficient amino acids. 

Moreover, albumin test may be used to assess the nutritional status of the body. Prealbumin test measures proteins in order to determine the current nutritional status of a person especially before and after surgery. Since prealbumin changes quite fast, it is more useful in detection of changes in short-term nutritional status in body than albumin. In addition, microalbumin test is used to measure small levels of albumin present in urine and it may be a marker for the risk of developing kidney disease. 

An albumin test is conducted as part of liver panel test for examination of physical or health screening of a patient. It is ordered if a patient is suspected of suffering from liver disorder symptoms like jaundice, weight loss, and fatigue, or symptoms of nephritic syndrome like swelling of the legs, belly, and eyes. 

When there are low albumin levels, it may be a warning of a health complication. It may require further investigations to be carried out. Low albumin may reflect a temporary condition that could resolve on its own with time. On the other hand, it may suggest an acute or chronic disease that needs immediate medical intervention. 

Although low albumin may indicate a liver disease, it may require other enzyme tests to be ordered in order to determine which type of liver disease a person may be suffering from such as cirrhosis, hepatocellular necrosis, and hepatitis. 

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A patient may also show normal or near normal levels of albumin with a liver disease until that time, when the condition has progressed to advanced stages. A good example is the case of cirrhosis where the albumin levels may be low though not always, but for chronic liver diseases, which have not advanced to cirrhosis, the albumin levels may remain normal. 

Causes of low levels of albumin

Low levels of albumin may also reflect disease of the kidneys where the albumin is not prevented from leaking out of the blood into the urine. A microalbumin test may be ordered to measure the amount of albumin protein in urine. In conditions like shock, inflammation, and malnutrition, low albumin levels may also be seen. 

If the body does not properly absorb and digest proteins as may happen with crohn’s disease or celiac disease, then low albumin levels may be recorded. Peritoneal dialysis is another condition, which can cause low levels of albumin. With peritoneal dialysis, the body losses proteins through the peritoneal membrane. 

Infections like decayed teeth, infected gums, bladder infection may cause the levels of albumin to drop. In pregnant women, the levels of albumin may be low. Medications like oral contraceptives could also lower the albumin levels in body in women. 

Causes of high albumin

Higher albumin levels may be caused by burns, acute infections, stress emanating from surgery or heart attack. Dehydration, high protein diet, and having a tourniquet for a prolonged period may also cause increased albumin levels. Some medications like steroids, insulin, and hormones can as well step up or raise the level of albumin. 

How to keep normal albumin levels

In order to keep the level of albumin to normal, you need to know, which foods to take. Good sources of protein may help step up the levels if the low albumin levels are arising from poor malnutrition. Moreover, you can keep adequate albumin levels by preventing infections and keeping the access clean. 

If you notice areas of your body that appear to be infected such as sore, red, and swollen areas, you should seek medical attention to get treatment for the same. It is important that you monitor your albumin levels. You need to know your monthly albumin levels and if they are low, you should work with your doctor to establish the cause and the mode of treatment.

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