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Side Effects of Hypoalbuminemia

by
author image Robert Shifko
Robert Shifko has more than 17 years' experience in the health care industry. Throughout his career, he has gained experience in pharmacologic research, clinical nuclear medicine, and most recently radiation health physics. He has obtained several certifications in nuclear medicine, epidemiology, biostatistics and as a medical radiation safety officer. He has always supported LIVESTRONG.
Side Effects of Hypoalbuminemia
Doctor with a patient Photo Credit Jochen Sands/Photodisc/Getty Images

Hypoalbuminemia is a condition characterized by low blood levels of albumin. Albumin is simply the proteins that make up human blood plasma. Approximately 60 percent of human blood plasma is comprised of albumin. There are many causes of this disorder such as kidney dysfunction, liver disease and some heart conditions. According to Chemocare.com, hypoalbuminemia may not be accompanied by any side effects. If blood protein levels become extremely low, however, some physical symptoms may become apparent.

Triggers

According to Serum Albumin Research, the condition of hypoalbuminemia can be triggered by several other medical conditions and individual behaviors. A factor such as a patient's diet can result in hypoalbuminemia. If individuals do not consume enough protein in a daily diet, this condition can result. Medical conditions such a kidney dysfunction can also result in hypoalbuminemia. The kidneys may not be able to process the protein properly, therefore excreting the protein through the urine instead of absorbing it into the bloodstream. Certain liver disorders such as hepatitis or liver cancer can also affect the protein absorption in the body, thus lowering levels of protein in the bloodstream. Also, heart ailments such as congestive heart failure and pericarditis can result in hypoalbuminemia.

Swelling

Hypoalbuminemia causes a decrease in oncotic pressure. Oncotic pressure is the pressure caused in the blood plasma by the proteins contained within the plasma. Oncotic pressure is useful in carrying fluids to the circulatory system. According to Serum Albumin Research, decreases in oncotic pressure can lead to water retention and subsequent swelling in the body. The swelling can be located all over the body or can be noticed in only one location such as the legs. If unusual swelling in the body becomes apparent, consult a physician immediately.

Muscular Symptoms

According to Chemocare.com, decreased levels of albumin can lead to symptoms that affect the muscles of the body. Due to the low levels of protein, individuals with hypoalbuminemia may experience muscle weakness, muscles fatigue or muscle cramping. If any of these symptoms become evident, a physician should be consulted immediately.

Loss of Appetite

According to Serum Albumin Research, loss of appetite may be associated with the condition of hypoalbuminemia. Appetite suppression can make the treatment of this condition difficult because hypoalbuminemia can occur in patients with healthy appetites who consume proper quantities of protein. Any individual who has been diagnosed with hypoalbuminemia and experiences a change in appetite should consult a physician immediately.

Ascites

Ascites is defined as an excess of fluid that collects in the space between the abdominal wall and the abdominal organs. According to Chemocare.com, acites may become evident in individuals who had previously been diagnosed with a liver condition that has led to hypoalbuminemia. If ascites is present, the individual may notice an abnormal swelling in the abdominal region. If this symptom becomes evident, a physician should be consulted immediately.

Pleural Effusions

Pleural effusion is defined as the accumulation of fluid in the space that surrounds the lungs. Research is still being performed regarding the direct link between hypoalbuminemia and pleural effusion formation. According to "Pleural Diseases" by Richard W. Light, the decrease in oncotic pressure due to hypoalbuminemia would increase the rate and prevalence of pleural effusion formation. The direct link of hypoalbuminemia and pleural effusion is questioned due to the fact that the patients in which pleural effusions were found, the individuals also had another condition that could have led to pleural effusion formation.

Treatments for Hypoalbuminemia

According to Chemocare.com, in order to treat the condition of hypoalbuminemia, the underlying cause of the condition must be treated. This can be accomplished easily after a consultation with a physician. Measures that can be taken to treat this condition may include adjusting medications to insure no interactions are occurring with the medicines an individual is taking. Simply taking medications in the order in which they are prescribed may greatly help this condition. Adjustment to a daily diet to include more protein may alleviate the condition. Avoiding alcohol consumption will also greatly improve this condition.

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