Causes of Low Albumin Level in Blood

By Ashley | January 28, 2010

In our body, the liver works as a processor that converts all the toxic and water insoluble substances into less toxic and water soluble ones. These processed non-toxic or less toxic and water soluble substances are then excreted from the body by the kidney.

Serum albumin is one of the proteins produced by the liver which circulates in the blood stream. Albumin works as a transporter for the toxins produced by the body and certain drugs, lipids, and hormones. It brings these substances to the liver for processing them into less toxic and water soluble substances. It also maintains the amount of blood in the arteries and veins.

Low Albumin Level in Blood

Low albumin level in blood is due to many reasons such as:

  • Acute liver failure may not always cause lower albumin levels; however, chronic situations such as liver cirrhosis lead to a drastic reduction in albumin production.
  • Kidney failure causes excessive excretion of albumin from the body and can be a reason for lower albumin levels.
  • Albumin levels are also reduced in case of shocks, inflammation, and malnutrition.

There are no known pathological reasons that increase albumin levels in the body. However, dehydration and certain drugs such as steroids, growth hormones, and insulin may cause higher albumin levels in the body.

The normal range of slbumin in the body is 3.5 to 5 g/dL. A physician prescribes a blood albumin test when there are symptoms such as:

  • Liver failure which is associated with unexpected weight loss and Jaundice.
  • Kidney failure which causes rupture of small capillaries and veins and further leads to excessive loss of protein from the body.
  • Albumin maintains the amount of blood inside the veins and capillaries, so a reduced level may cause swelling of the soft tissues. This is known as edema.
  • Due to malnutrition, the body produces lesser amounts of protein, which ultimately reduces the albumin level in the blood.

The blood albumin test is performed by taking venous blood. The blood sample then undergoes a process called Serum Protein Electrophoresis, which detects the exact amount of albumin levels in the blood along with other serum proteins.

Here are the associated diseases which a person may suffer from due to abnormal levels of albumin in his/her blood:

  • Liver diseases such as jaundice, hepatitis, ascites, and necrosis.
  • Kidney diseases such as glomerulonephritis and nephrotic Syndrome.
  • Malnutrition, Crohn’s disease, and sprue.
  • Other sub categories include diabetic nephropathy, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatorenal syndrome, membranous nephropathy, tropical sprue, and Wilson’s disease.