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Albumin (Blood)


Albumin (Blood)

Does this test have other names?

ALB

What is this test?

This test measures the amount of the protein albumin in your blood.

Your liver makes albumin. Albumin carries substances such as hormones, drugs, and enzymes throughout your body.

This test can help diagnose, evaluate, and watch kidney and liver conditions. When your kidneys begin to fail, albumin starts to leak into your urine. This causes a low albumin level in your blood.

Why do I need this test?

You may have this test if your doctor suspects that you have liver or kidney disease. Symptoms of these diseases include:

  • Jaundice, or yellowish skin

  • Fatigue

  • Weight loss

  • Fever

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Dark urine or gray, pale stools

  • Pain below the right ribs, including the stomach area

  • Tenderness below your right ribs

Other symptoms of kidney disease include:

  • Swelling of your stomach and legs or around your eyes

  • Shortness of breath

  • Frequent need to urinate at night

  • Nausea

  • Itchy skin

  • In men, an inability to get or maintain an erection, a condition called erectile dysfunction

You may also have this test if you are on dialysis to help your doctor find out how well treatment is working.

You may also have this test to check your nutritional status.  

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may also order tests to measure other proteins in your blood. These include:

  • Total protein

  • Prealbumin

  • Globulins

Your doctor may also test your urine for albumin.

Your doctor might also order tests that find what's causing inflammation if your blood albumin is low. These tests include:

  • C-reactive protein, or CRP

  • Alpha-1 acid

  • Glycoprotein, or a1-AG

  • Ferritin

  • Ceruloplasmin

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Results are given in grams per deciliter (g/dL). A normal albumin range is 3.4 to 5.4 g/dL.

If you have a lower albumin level, you may have malnutrition. It can also mean that you have liver disease or an inflammatory disease.  

Higher albumin levels may be caused by acute infections, burns, and stress from surgery or a heart attack.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.

What might affect my test results?

Being dehydrated can cause higher albumin levels. Certain medications, including insulin, steroids, and hormones, can raise your albumin levels.

If you are pregnant, your albumin levels may be lower. Medications such as oral contraceptives may also lower your albumin levels.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your doctor knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.