Albumin is a type of protein that is produced by the liver which plays a role in the transportation of essential fatty acids to muscle tissue from the adipose or fat tissues. It also helps in the movement of hormones and drugs through the bloodstream. Deficiencies of albumin can cause health concerns. An albumin blood test is done to measure the level of albumin present in the liquid part of the blood.
An albumin blood test will help to detect liver and kidney diseases. The ability of the body to absorb protein is also gauged through this test. The role of albumin is to assist the movement of many substances in the blood such as bilirubin, progesterone, calcium and medications. It performs the vital role of preventing the leakage of the fluid in the blood into the tissues. Since albumin is produced by the liver, lowered levels of albumin may be indicative of liver conditions. Kidney disease can also result in decreased albumin levels as it causes the albumin to pass into the urine. An albumin urine test may also be done to detect kidney disease. Other factors such as poor nutrition and a diet that is low in protein can also lead to low albumin levels.
The doctor will usually inform the individual about certain medications that can affect the test results. Accordingly, the individual may need to discontinue certain drugs he may be currently taking. These drugs include androgens, growth hormones, insulin and anabolic steroids.
A blood sample is taken for this test, which is then placed on a centrifuge, which is a machine that separates the liquid portion of the blood from the cells.
Albumin levels in the range of 3.4 to 5.4 g/Dl are considered normal. If the test results show levels of albumin that are lower than this ranges then it could be indicative of conditions such as liver diseases such as cirrhosis, and hepatitis. There are also low levels of albumin in hepatorenal syndrome which is a type of renal failure. Other factors causing low albumin levels include extensive burns, glomerulonephritis, ascites, malnutrition, nephrotic syndrome and conditions arising from malabsorption such as whipple's diease, sprue and crohn's disease.
There is not a lot of risk associated with taking blood samples. Taking blood may be a bit difficult in certain individuals as the size of the veins differ in people. In rare cases, the bleeding may be excessive or the individual may feel faint. Slight hematoma or infection may develop in very rare cases.
The levels of albumin during pregnancy are usually lower than normal.