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Elevated Albumin – What does it mean?

Proteins are a vital part of the human body as they are its building blocks. Blood has different types of serum proteins which help in proper functioning of the body and the immune system. Albumin is one of the most important serum proteins and it is produced in the liver. When the concentration of albumin is higher than the normal levels, then the condition is referred to as hyperalbuminemia.

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Elevated levels of albumin are usually indicative of some underlying disease. In most cases, doctors will suggest albumin testing if they suspect liver or kidney ailments. Albumin testing is normally carried out along with creatinine level measurement and liver profile and BUN.

Functions of Albumin

Over fifty percent of the overall plasma proteins present in the body are made up of albumin. A few major functions of albumin are as follows:

  • It assists in movement of fatty acids, cations, bilirubin, and medications/drugs in the bloodstream. Free fatty acids are transported to the myocytes and the liver for energy utilization. It may also be noted that the half life of medicines can be affected by the levels of albumin.
  • It helps carry thyroid hormones and other hormones, especially liposoluble hormones.
  • It helps maintain normal levels of colloidal osmotic pressure in blood
  • It helps prevent the leakage of blood/fluids from the blood vessels
  • It helps regulate the levels of PH
  • It promotes tissue growth and enhances faster healing of injury to tissues.
  • It helps avoid folic acid photo-degradation
  • It efficiently binds to calcium ions

Symptoms of elevated albumin

Elevated albumin is in itself a symptom of some other underlying condition. The patient will experience a variety of symptoms depending on the underlying disease. A few common and generic symptoms of elevated albumin include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Dizziness when sitting or standing
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Unexplained or sudden weight loss

Normal levels of albumin

Doctors may ask for a serum albumin test for patients who have been suffering from symptoms like fatigue, jaundice, loss of weight, and swelling around eyes, legs, and abdomen, etc.

The reference scale for blood albumin levels ranges between 3.4 g/dL and 5.4 g/dL. The reference scale for albumin levels in urine ranges between 0 and 8 mg/dL.

Causes of elevated albumin

Some of the common causes of elevated albumin are listed below:

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  • Dehydration: One of the major causes of high albumin levels is extreme dehydration. People may be dehydrated because of excessive loss of fluids from the body due to diarrhea or severe vomiting. It may also occur because of insufficient intake of water.
    • People with diseases that cause dehydration as a symptom will elicit a rise in the levels of albumin.
    • It may be noted that dehydration does not actually result in rise in the levels of proteins in the body. The loss of water from the body leads to increased thickening of blood, which then consequently triggers the varied blood components to become increasingly concentrated.
  • Diseases: The below listed diseases hamper proper functioning of the immune system thereby causing elevated albumin levels:
    • Cancer
    • Severe infections
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Congenital disorders
    • Hepatitis
    • Chronic inflammatory disorders
    • Malnourishment
    • Tuberculosis
    • Kidney ailments
    • HIV
  • Drug overdose: Overdosing on varied cortisone medications, presence of tumors which secrete cortisol-like matter, or increased release of cortisol by the adrenal glands can lead to an increase in albumin levels.

Treatment of elevated albumin

Treatment of elevated albumin is dependent on the underlying causative condition. Doctors will recommend the treatment option after proper diagnosis of the pre-existing disease.

  • Mild cases of dehydration does not cause elevated albumin and they can be resolved by drinking water and other fluids. Severe dehydration is usually treated water and zinc. Swelling of cells caused by low intake of water is decreased by zinc. Salt retention is also promoted by zinc.
  • Kidney diseases are treated with medications and diet changes. In severe cases, kidney transplant may be required.
  • Non-malignant tumors can be surgically removed. Cancer treatment involves radiation therapy, surgery, and/or chemotherapy.
  • Inflammatory conditions can be treated with steroids and other drugs. Severe chronic inflammatory disorders may require treatment with corticosteroids.

Eating a healthy diet with lots of veggies, fibers, and pulses; regular exercising; sufficient sleep and rest; and reduction of stress via meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques, etc., can help keep diseases at bay and prevent a rise in albumin levels.

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