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Albumin Blood Test

Last updated July 23, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Albumin Blood Test helps assess albumin protein levels in blood.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • ALB Test 

What is Albumin Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Albumin is the most abundant protein (55-65% of total protein) found in blood, produced by the liver
  • It aids in balancing the amount of blood flowing through the veins and arteries and moves substances, like medications or drugs, hormones, bilirubin, and calcium, through blood. It prevents fluids in blood, from leaking into the tissues
  • A decreased production or an increased loss of albumin, results in decreased or lower levels of albumin in blood. Low albumin levels are associated with a high death risk, over time
  • The Albumin Blood Test helps assess albumin protein levels in blood

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Albumin Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing an Albumin Blood Test:

  • Mostly, it is ordered as part of a routine health investigation or screening, to know the nutritional status of the body
  • When the healthcare provider suspects liver or kidney disease, or other abnormal conditions affecting blood albumin levels. Result of the Albumin Blood Test, along with other physical findings and tests, helps in establishing a diagnosis
  • Some of the signs and symptoms of low levels of albumin in the body are:
    • Swelling in the body, especially around the eyes, legs, and belly
    • Fatigue
    • Weight loss
    • Jaundice
  • The Albumin Blood Test is also done to monitor the nutritional status of the patients, during liver or kidney disease, or while undergoing treatment for conditions causing decreased albumin levels in the body 

How is the Specimen Collected for Albumin Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Albumin Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process: Insertion of a needle into an arm vein.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test. 

What is the Significance of the Albumin Blood Test Result?

The normal values, called the reference range for albumin, may vary slightly from lab to lab. Hence, most lab reports come with a reference range, which is used in that particular centre. A physician interprets the results based on the reference values provided. 

A standard reference range in wide use is:

  • Normal range: 3.5-5.5 gm/dL (grams per deciliter) 

Low albumin levels may indicate:

  • Liver disease: Additional tests are necessary to determine the type of liver disease; some of which may include hepatitis, cirrhosis, or ascites
  • The presence of diseases, like nephrotic syndrome or nephritic syndrome, in which the kidneys are unable to prevent albumin in blood, from leaking into the urine
  • Low levels are also seen in malnutrition, infection, prolonged diarrhea, and chronic illness
  • In conditions where the body does not absorb and digest protein, such as Crohn’s disease, Whipple’s disease, or sprue
  • Extensive burns
  • Major surgeries
  • A variety of cancers
  • Decreased thyroid hormones levels
  • Redistribution or changes in fluid volume of blood, due to heart failure, pregnancy, shock
  • Diabetes 

High albumin levels may indicate:

  • It is commonly observed with dehydration, when the total fluid volume of blood decreases, consequently causing an increase in Albumin levels. However, this test is not used to detect or monitor dehydration 

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario. 

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • The reference range of albumin may differ slightly depending on parameters, such as the age and gender of individuals
  • There are specific drugs that increase albumin levels in blood. These include insulin, androgens, growth hormones, and anabolic steroids
  • The test results may be inaccurate, if an individual is receiving large amounts of intravenous fluids 

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 19, 2014
Last updated: July 23, 2019