The high albumin is medically known as hyperalbuminemia, and means an excess or high concentration of albumin in the blood. The serum albumin concentration is typically 35-50 g / L (3.5-5.0 g / dl). Proteins are building blocks of the human body, so albumin and globulin are essential proteins for healthy body function.
Albumin represents more than 50% of the total plasma proteins in the human body. Some of its functions are to regulate the colloidal osmotic pressure of the blood, to help in the movement of fatty acids, hormones, bilirubin, cations and drugs in the blood, among others.
Also, albumin prevents fluid from leaving the blood and into the tissues. When the serum albumin concentration is higher than the normal range, it is called hyperalbuminemia. Abnormal serum albumin levels could be indicative of certain medical conditions.
One of the main reasons behind high levels of albumin in the blood is severe dehydration, and this can occur due to inadequate water intake, or fluid loss due to severe vomiting or diarrhea. Thus, serum albumin levels may rise in individuals affected by diseases that cause dehydration.
Although dehydration does not actually cause protein levels to rise, the loss of water causes the blood to thicken, which in turn causes the components of the blood to become concentrated.
Albumin’s functions include:
- Maintains oncotic pressure.
- It carries thyroid hormones.
- It carries other hormones, in particular those that are fat soluble.
- Transports fatty acids (“free” fatty acids) to the liver and myocytes for energy use.
- It carries unconjugated bilirubin.
- It carries many drugs (serum albumin levels can affect the half-life of drugs).
- It binds competitively to calcium ions (Ca2 +).
- Regulate the PH.
- It prevents the photodegradation of folic acid.
The role of proteins
Proteins are large, complicated molecules vital to the function of all cells and tissues.
They take a variety of forms – such as albumin, antibodies, and enzymes – and have many different functions such as: regulatory functions of the body, transporting drugs and other substances throughout the body, helping fight disease, building muscles, and more.
A high protein diet does not cause high blood protein. High blood protein is not a specific disease or condition in itself. It is usually a laboratory finding discovered during the evaluation of a particular condition or symptom.
For example, although high protein is found in the blood of people who are dehydrated, the real problem is actually that the blood plasma is more concentrated.
Certain proteins in the blood may have been elevated if the body is fighting an infection or some other inflammation. People with certain bone marrow diseases, such as multiple myeloma, may have high levels of protein in their blood before showing other symptoms.
Possible causes of high blood protein include:
- HIV AIDS.
- Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).
- Multiple myeloma.
- Chronic inflammatory conditions.
- Bone marrow disorder.
This makes the blood thicken, causing the concentration of its elements. The test results, therefore, will show that there is a high globulin level in the blood, whereas in reality this is not the case.
A virus that attacks the body’s immune cells, making it prone to other diseases. This results in a high serum globulin level, because the body tries to compensate by producing more (immune cells are also known as immunoglobulins).
Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is where the body makes an abnormal protein called a monoclonal protein or M protein. Although this protein is abnormal, it usually does not cause any problems.
In some cases, however, this condition can progress for years and lead to disease, including cancer. However, it is impossible to determine which condition will progress and which will not.
A condition in which myeloma cells (plasma cells in the bone marrow that make antibodies) become cancerous and multiply. This increases the number of plasma cells that manifest as high levels of albumin in the blood.
A condition similar to MGUS, where abnormal proteins called amyloid proteins are produced by cells in the bone marrow. These are deposited in different organs such as the heart, kidneys, spleen, liver, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. The cause of amyloidosis is not known, but it is considered a very rare condition.
High levels of albumin in the blood are actually a symptom of dysfunction within the body. Depending on the cause of the condition, the individual will demonstrate distinct clinical features.
There are a number of general symptoms, but most of these are very generic and could be indicators of many diseases, including some very simple that have no consequences.
Some of the symptoms are as follows:
- Dizziness when standing or sitting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Tingling or numbness
In any case, it is important to note that it is not a good idea to self-diagnose.
If the doctor determines that the albumin level is high, he may recommend additional tests to determine if there is an underlying problem.
More specific tests can help determine the cause. For example, a serum protein electrophoresis test measures individual proteins in the blood, being able to reveal which specific type of protein is causing these high levels. Your doctor may order this test if they suspect you have a bone marrow disease.
Treatment is different for each case, and consultation with a doctor is essential. This is because the type of treatment that is pursued depends largely on the type of disease. There are no home remedies for a condition like this. Alternative treatments may be available, but medical advice and treatment is recommended.
Typically, this condition is a sign of severe or chronic dehydration. Chronic dehydration needs to be treated with zinc, as well as water. Zinc reduces cellular swelling caused by decreased water intake (hypotonicity) and also increases salt retention.
In the dehydrated state, the body has too high an osmolarity and apparently discards zinc to avoid this. Zinc also regulates the transport of cellular taurine osmolyte, and albumin is known to increase cellular absorption of taurine.
Zinc has been shown to increase the production of retinol (vitamin A) from beta carotene, and in laboratory experiments retinol reduces the production of human albumin. It’s possible that a retinol (vitamin A) deficiency alone can cause albumin levels to rise.
Patients recovering from chronic dehydration can develop dry eyes. It is interesting to note that retinol causes cells to swell with water (this is probably one of the reasons why too much vitamin A is toxic).
- Eat a healthy diet that includes vegetables, legumes, and fiber.
- Adequate rest and sleep.
- Reduce stress by practicing yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.
- Regular visits to the doctor.
Albumin test (urine)
The test is used to check for kidney disease or damage. Albumin helps keep the correct amount of fluid moving through the body.
The kidneys filter toxins from the blood, but they allow proteins to pass through because proteins are useful to the body.
Proteins must be reabsorbed into the blood and not excreted in the urine. But if your kidneys are damaged or diseased, albumin can leak into your urine. One of the first signs of kidney damage is albumin in the urine.
Why is this proof needed?
Your doctor may order this test if he thinks you have kidney disease or diabetes. You will probably need to retest in 1 to 2 weeks.
What other tests may be needed along with this test?
The doctor may also order tests to look for other wastes in the blood. These include creatinine and urea nitrogen. If the kidneys are working the way they should, these waste products are removed from the blood.
Tests may therefore be needed to see how much creatinine is in the urine. These tests help the doctor determine the urine albumin / creatinine ratio, and in turn detect, diagnose, and monitor the treatment of kidney disorders.
A test may also be needed to determine the glomerular filtration rate. Tiny blood vessels in the kidney, known as glomeruli, prevent protein from getting into the urine. If the glomeruli are damaged, more protein will leak into the urine.
What do the test results mean?
Many things can affect lab test results. These include the method that each laboratory uses to do the test. To find out what the results mean, it is advisable to assist with the healthcare provider.
A normal amount of albumin in the urine is less than 20 mg a day. A normal amount of total protein in the urine is less than 150 mg per day.
If the test shows high levels of albumin in the urine or an increase in albumin in the urine, it could mean that there is kidney damage or disease.
If the patient has diabetes, a possible cause of an increase in urinary albumin is diabetic nephropathy, or kidney disease.
How is this test done?
This test requires a urine sample. Your doctor may order a 24-hour urine sample. For this type of sample, the patient must collect all the urine for 24 hours, as follows: empty the bladder completely first thing in the morning without collecting it and record the time.
Then collect your urine every time you go to the bathroom for the next 24 hours.
Does this test pose any risks?
This test has no known risks.
What could affect the test results?
The test results could be affected if:
- The patient has a urinary tract infection.
- You are pregnant
- He has fever.
- Have high blood pressure
- You have high blood sugar.
- You have certain types of cancer such as bladder cancer.
- You have certain kidney diseases such as glomerulonephritis or a disease that affects the kidney such as lupus.
- Certain medications can also increase or decrease the amount of protein in the urine.
How to prepare for this test?
You do not need to prepare for this test. But it is advisable to make sure that the doctor knows all the medications, herbs, vitamins and supplements that the patient is taking. This includes medicines that do not need a prescription and any illicit drugs that you may use.
If you are doing a 24-hour test, make sure you understand how to collect the sample, as well as ask if there are foods that are not recommended to eat before or during the test.
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- Salina (2011). High Albumin Levels. Tandurust. Recovered from: tandurust.com
- Bass, Pat F. (2016). Albumin. Health Encyclopedia University of Rochester Medical Center. Recovered from rochester.edu.
- Patricia (2009) Causes Of High Protein Levels In Blood. Wiz. Recovered from yogawiz.com.
- Mayo Clinic Staff (2015). Albumin. Mayo Clinic. Recovered from www.mayoclinic.org.