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Albumin



Why Get Tested

To screen for and help diagnose a liver disorder or kidney disease sometimes to evaluate nutritional status especially in hospitalized patients

When To Get Tested

Routinely as part of the blood tests done for a physical when a healthcare practitioner thinks that you have symptoms of a liver disorder or kidney disease sometimes when you have unintended weight loss have symptoms associated with malnutrition or prior to a planned surgery

Sample Required

A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed

None




Common Questions


An albumin test is routinely included in the panels of tests performed as part of a health examination such as a comprehensive metabolic panel CMP so it is frequently used to help evaluate a person s overall health status Additionally since albumin can be low in many different diseases and disorders it may be used in a variety of settings to help diagnose disease to monitor changes in health status with treatment or with disease progression and as a screen that may indicate the need for other kinds of testing Albumin is a protein made by the liver that keeps fluid from leaking out of blood vessels nourishes tissues and transports hormones vitamins drugs and substances like calcium throughout the body An albumin test may be ordered as part of a liver panel to evaluate liver function or with a creatinine blood urea nitrogen BUN or renal panel to evaluate kidney function Albumin may also be ordered to evaluate a person s nutritional status

An albumin test is frequently ordered as part of a panel of tests performed for a health screening Albumin may be ordered along with other tests when a person has symptoms of a liver disorder such as Yellowing of eyes or skin jaundice Weakness fatigue Unexplained weight loss Loss of appetite Abdominal swelling and or pain Dark urine light-colored stool Itching pruritus This test may be ordered when a person has symptoms of nephrotic syndrome such as Swelling or puffiness particularly around the eyes or in the face wrists abdomen thighs or ankles Urine that is foamy bloody or coffee-colored A decrease in the amount of urine Problems urinating such as a burning feeling or abnormal discharge during urination or a change in the frequency of urination especially at night Mid-back pain flank below the ribs near where the kidneys are located High blood pressure hypertension A healthcare practitioner may also order an albumin test to check or monitor a person s nutritional status However since albumin concentrations respond to a variety of conditions in addition to malnutrition a decrease in albumin needs to be evaluated carefully

Results of albumin testing are evaluated along with those from other tests done at the same time such as the tests included in a comprehensive metabolic panel CMP or in follow up A low albumin level may be a warning and an indication that further investigation may be warranted A low albumin may reflect a temporary condition that will resolve itself or may suggest an acute or chronic condition that requires medical intervention Levels of albumin may decrease to a greater or lesser degree when conditions interfere with its production increase protein breakdown increase protein loss and or expand plasma volume diluting the blood Depending on the person s medical history signs and symptoms and physical exam additional testing may be done to investigate a low result A low albumin can suggest liver disease Liver enzyme tests or a liver panel may be ordered to determine exactly which type of liver disease may be present A person may however have normal or near normal albumin levels with liver disease until the condition has reached an advanced stage For example in people with cirrhosis albumin is typically but not always low whereas in most chronic liver diseases that have not progressed to cirrhosis albumin is usually normal Low albumin levels can reflect diseases in which the kidneys cannot prevent albumin from leaking from the blood into the urine and being lost In this case the amount of albumin or protein in the urine also may be measured see Urine Albumin or tests for creatinine and BUN or a renal panel may be ordered Low albumin levels can also be seen in inflammation shock and malnutrition They may be seen with conditions in which the body does not properly absorb and digest protein such as Crohns disease or celiac disease or in which large volumes of protein are lost from the intestines A low albumin may also be seen in several other conditions such as Infection Burns Surgery Chronic illness Cancer Diabetes Hypothyroidism Carcinoid syndrome Plasma volume expansion due to congestive heart failure sometimes pregnancy High albumin levels can be seen with dehydration although the test is not typically used to monitor or detect this condition

Certain drugs increase albumin in the blood including anabolic steroids androgens growth hormones and insulin If someone is receiving large amounts of intravenous fluids the results of this test may be inaccurate

Individuals who have chronic liver disease and kidney disorders are at highest risk for developing abnormal albumin levels In addition individuals whose gastrointestinal tract doesn t absorb nutrients properly and individuals who have prolonged diarrhea can develop abnormal albumin levels

Not for blood albumin you can test for high albumin levels in urine with a dipstick purchased in a drug store

Although the names are similar albumin and prealbumin are completely different molecules They are both proteins made by the liver however and both have been used historically to evaluate nutritional status Serum plasma or blood albumin is now more often used to screen for and help diagnose liver or kidney disease and is tested on a blood sample The urine albumin test in the past called a microalbumin test detects and measures albumin in the urine as an early indicator of kidney damage