An albumin blood test has a variety of uses in diagnosing or tracking the progress of certain diseases. Albumin is essentially any protein that is water soluble and that coagulates under heat. In the context of health, Albumin generally refers to serum albumin, which is a major component of plasma protein in the human body. Serum albumin is produced by the liver, and its levels in the blood are a good indicator of a person’s state of health, with specific regard to liver function. In a large number of albumin blood tests therefore, the aim is to determine the presence of liver disease. However, other medical conditions such as kidney disease, malnutrition, certain types of cancer, and even sever burns can result in low albumin levels.
Usually, a doctor will ask for an albumin blood test to be performed if he or she suspects some sort of liver disease. If the patient shows signs of jaundice, and there are no other clear indications of the reason for it, an albumin blood test may be needed. Symptoms such as unexplained fatigue and weight loss may also lead a doctor to suspect liver disease. Asciites – the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, leading to swelling in this area, or even unexplained fluid retention and swelling in other parts of the body could be explored using an albumin blood test.
There is no real preparation needed for an albumin test. However, you should note that certain medications could increase the amount of albumin in the blood, thus distorting the results of the test. A patient who is on intravenous fluids will also have unreliable results in his or her albumin test. The doctor asking for the test or examining the results should be made aware of any such factors.
For an albumin blood test, blood is drawn just as with any other blood test.
As mentioned earlier, low albumin readings in the test are usually indicative of liver disease. To understand the exact nature of the liver disease, further tests are usually needed. If kidney disease is suspected, an albumin urine test may be ordered as a follow up to the albumin blood test. Malnutrition and certain disorders affecting the absorption or assimilation of protein could also cause albumin levels to be low. One of the few cases in which albumin levels may be high is dehydration, but the test is rarely used to diagnose dehydration as the other symptoms are clearer and more obvious.