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.
You may have this test if your health care provider suspects that you have liver or kidney disease. Symptoms of these diseases include:
Jaundice, or yellowish skin
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
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 health care provider find out how well treatment is working.
You may also have this test to check your nutritional status.
Your health care provider may also order tests to measure other proteins in your blood. These include:
Urine protein electrophoresis
Serum protein electrophoresis
Your health care provider may also test your urine for albumin.
Your health care provider might also order tests that find what's causing inflammation if your blood albumin is low. These tests include:
C-reactive protein, or CRP
Glycoprotein, or a1-AG
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.
The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.
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.
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.
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.