Serum Albumin Test

Serum albumin is the most copious form of protein in blood plasma and it produced in the liver. Albumin makes up about half of the serum protein in blood. This protein is soluble meaning that it can readily dissolve in water. Albumin is synthesized in liver in form of preproalbumin. The functions of albumin in blood plasma include transportation of fatty acids, hormones, and other compounds in body. 

Albumin transports free fatty acids to the liver and myocytes where they are availed for energy release in the body. It has the ability to move small molecules like bilirubin, calcium, progesterone and other substances into the bloodstream. Uncongugated bilirubin is transported in albumin. Albumin also helps in enhancing buffer pH. Other functions of albumin include regulations of osmotic pressure. Proteins circulate in blood and help maintain fluid balance. 

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The right albumin balance is needed in order to keep the body fluid from leaking out of blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. It carries important nutrients, hormonal substances, and proteins that are needed for blood clotting. If your kidneys and the liver are not functioning properly, they may cause alterations in the normal levels of serum albumin. 

Abnormal levels could indicate kidney damage considering that the kidneys help in keeping large molecules such as proteins and ensure that they are retained in blood and not filtered out of the body through the glomerulus to the urine. Even if some proteins manage to pass the glomerulus into the urine, they are re-absorbed by the body. 

Serum albumin test

The liver takes proteins from the diet and turns them into new protein form that circulates to different parts of tissues and organs in the body. A serum albumin test can help provide information on how well or poorly your liver may be working. Albumin test is part of the wider liver panel test, which is done for albumin, blood urea nitrogen, prealbumin, and creatinine. 

An albumin test may be ordered by a doctor if it is suspected that you are suffering from a condition that affects the function of liver. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with liver disease like jaundice or yellowing skin, weight loss, fatigue, swollen legs, stomach and eyes, then your doctor may order the test. 

Moreover, albumin test may also be used to examine the status of medical conditions like liver disease, kidney disease, and chronic pancreatitis. The serum albumin test results can help indicate if these conditions are progressing or improving as a result of medication. Therefore, the test may be used to examine the responsiveness of treatment therapies to such health conditions. 

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Causes of low albumin levels in plasma- hypoalbuminemia

The normal range of albumin concentration is blood plasma is about 3.5 to 5.4 grams per deciliter. Low blood plasma albumin levels also referred to as hypoalbuminemia may occur as a result of conditions like liver disease including cirrhosis and hepatitis. These conditions cause damage to the liver meaning that it is not able to synthesize sufficient albumin for the health of the body. 

In addition, when there is excess excretion of blood protein in kidneys as may happen with nephritic syndrome, it may result to low amounts of albumin. The kidneys usually do not let out large molecules like proteins but instead these molecules kept in the blood plasma. If there is damage to the kidneys, it increases the permeability of the glomerulus thus leaking out more albumin molecules to the urine. 

Malabsorption problems such as the case of conditions like crohn’s disease may also cause the levels to go down. If a person has excess loss of bowel as characterized by protein-losing enteropathy, the amount of albumin may also reduce. Other factors associated with low levels of albumin are such as burns that cause plasma loss because of absence of skin barrier. 

The skin acts as a barrier to environmental factors like climate changes. If there is injury to the skin such as a burn, it may result to loss of plasma and considering that albumin constitutes the largest amount of plasma protein, it means that when the skin barrier is impaired, the plasma together with protein is lost. 

Moreover, hemodilution may occur in pregnancy leading to increased vascular permeability and reduced lymphatic clearance thus causing low levels of albumin. Malnutrition, where there is insufficient protein intake may also lower the levels of albumin. 

Causes of elevated levels of albumin- hyperalbuminemia

Hyperalbuminemia or increased levels of albumin beyond the normal ranges may be caused by severe dehydration. People with chronic dehydration may be treated with zinc and water. Zinc helps in reducing the swelling that is caused by reduced intake of water, a condition known as hypotonicity. 

Zinc also helps in retention of salts. Patients recovering from the chronic dehydration may have symptoms like dry eyes because the body utilizes much of its vitamin A reserves. When zinc is administered, it helps increase retinol or vitamin A production from the beta-carotene. High protein diets may also result to a hyperalbuminemia.  

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