Description: An Albumin test is a blood test used to screen for a diagnose kidney disease, liver disorders, and evaluate a patient’s nutritional status.
Also Known As: ALB Test
Collection Method: Blood Draw
Specimen Type: Serum
Test Preparation: No preparation required
Average Processing Time: 1 to 2 days
When is an Albumin test ordered?
A panel of tests is commonly ordered as part of a health check, including an albumin test.
If a person exhibits any of the following signs of a liver problem, an albumin test may be requested along with other tests:
- skin or eyes turning yellow
- weakness, exhaustion
- Unaccounted-for weight loss
- reduced appetite
- edema and/or pain in the abdomen
- Dark feces and pale urine
When someone exhibits the following nephrotic syndrome symptoms, for example:
- Swelling or puffiness, especially in the face, wrists, abdomen, thighs, or ankles, or around the eyes
- Foamy, bloody, or coffee-colored urine
- a reduction in the urine's volume
- problems urinating, such as a burning sensation or an unusual discharge, or a change in frequency, particularly at night
- discomfort in the middle of the back, below the ribs, and next to the kidneys
- elevated blood pressure
An albumin test may also be requested by a medical professional to assess or track a patient's nutritional condition. A reduction in albumin, however, needs to be carefully examined because, in addition to starvation, albumin concentrations respond to a number of other diseases.
What does an Albumin blood test check for?
The liver produces a protein called albumin. It has numerous roles and makes up roughly 60% of the blood's overall protein content. The amount of albumin in the blood is determined by this test.
Albumin nourishes tissues, transports hormones, vitamins, medicines, and chemicals like calcium throughout the body, and prevents fluid from seeping out of blood vessels. When factors affect the liver's ability to produce albumin, increase protein breakdown, increase protein loss through the kidneys, and/or increase plasma volume, albumin levels may decline to a greater or lower extent.
Low blood albumin can result from two key factors, including:
- Severe liver disease: Since the liver produces albumin, its level may drop with loss of liver function; however, this is usually only the case in cases of severe liver illness.
- Kidney disease: One of the kidneys' numerous jobs is to preserve plasma proteins like albumin so that they don't pass through the urine production process with other waste materials. High levels of albumin are found in the blood, and when the kidneys are working well, very little albumin is excreted in the urine. However, the ability to preserve albumin and other proteins starts to deteriorate if a person's kidneys become harmed or ill. Chronic disorders like diabetes and hypertension are prone to this. Extremely large amounts of albumin are lost through the kidneys in nephrotic syndrome.
Lab tests often ordered with an Albumin test:
- Hepatic Function Panel
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
- Urine Albumin
- Total Protein
- Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
- Renal Panel
Conditions where an Albumin test is recommended:
- Liver Disease
- Kidney Disease
How does my health care provider use an Albumin test?
An albumin test is widely used to assess a person's general health state since it is typically included in the panels of tests run as part of a health check, such as a thorough metabolic panel.
Albumin may also be used in a variety of situations to aid in the diagnosis of disease, to track changes in health status due to therapy or disease progression, and as a screen that may suggest the need for other types of testing because it can be low in a range of diseases and disorders.
The liver produces albumin, a protein that nourishes cells, prevents fluid from seeping out of blood vessels, carries hormones, vitamins, medications, and other chemicals like calcium throughout the body.
A creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, or renal panel may be ordered in addition to an albumin test to assess liver function or in conjunction with one of these tests to assess kidney function. Additionally, albumin can be requested to assess a person's nutritional status.
What do my Albumin test results mean?
The results of an albumin test are assessed in conjunction with those from other tests carried out concurrently, such as those in a comprehensive metabolic panel or during follow-up.
A low albumin level could be a red flag and a sign that more research may be necessary. A low albumin level could indicate a short-term issue that will go away on its own or it could indicate an acute or chronic disease that calls for medical attention.
When conditions affect albumin production, increase protein breakdown, increase protein loss, and/or expand plasma volume, albumin levels may decline to a greater or lower extent. Additional testing may be carried out to look into a low result, depending on the patient's medical history, signs and symptoms, and physical examination.
Low albumin levels may signal liver illness. To pinpoint precisely which sort of liver illness may be present, liver enzyme tests or a liver panel may be prescribed. However, until the disease has progressed to an advanced degree, a person with liver disease may have normal or nearly normal albumin levels. For instance, albumin is frequently low in cirrhotic individuals while albumin is typically normal in most chronic liver illnesses that have not progressed to cirrhosis.
Low albumin levels can be a sign of illnesses where the kidneys are unable to stop albumin from leaking into the urine and being lost. In this situation, tests for creatinine, BUN, or a renal panel may be requested, along with measurements of the albumin or protein levels in the urine.
Inflammation, shock, and starvation are among conditions that can cause low albumin levels. They may exhibit symptoms of diseases like Crohn's disease or celiac disease, which affect how well the body absorbs and digests protein, as well as circumstances where significant amounts of protein are wasted from the intestines.
A low albumin level can also occur in a number of different illnesses, including:
- chronic disease
- the cancer syndrome
- Plasma volume enlargement brought on by congestive heart failure and occasionally pregnancy
- Dehydration can cause high albumin levels, albeit this condition is not routinely tracked or detected by the test.
We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.