When a blood test reveals that your total protein and albumin levels are low, this can be an indication of certain underlying health conditions. Although the two main proteins are albumin and globulin, albumin is the major protein found in blood plasma. Produced in the liver, albumin has many functions in the body, including the transportation of substances such as hormones and medications, according to MedlinePlus. Reasons vary for low albumin and total protein levels in your blood.
A total protein test and an albumin serum test can measure the amounts of blood proteins. Total protein tests measure your ratio of albumin to globulin, and albumin serum tests are ordered by your doctor when you have symptoms such as edema. While the normal range level for total protein can be between 6.0 and 8.3 g/dL, the albumin normal level can range between 3.4 to 5.4 g/dL, according to MedlinePlus. A blood test that shows low levels of albumin can be an indication of liver damage or disease. Liver dysfunction associated with decreased albumin levels includes diseases such as hepatitis. Ascites or swelling of your abdomen may develop if you have low albumin associated with liver disease, according to chemocare.com.
Decreased albumin levels may also suggest kidney diseases or disorders, including glomerulonephritis. With a kidney disorder such as glomerulonephritis, albumin is lost from your body through urine, which can lead to decreased protein levels. This is one of the symptoms of nephrotic syndrome that can be evident in glomerulonephritis, according to MedlinePlus. Nephrotic syndrome is a condition defined by a specific set of symptoms associated with certain kidney disorders. Another symptom is edema in different body parts.
Low albumin levels can also develop if you have a malabsorption syndrome. Malabsorption is the inability to break down certain food nutrients as they travel through your digestive system. When fats, sugars and other nutrients are not properly digested, this indicates malabsorption syndrome. Symptoms include weight loss and malnutrition, according to MedlinePlus and the University of Maryland Medical Center. This syndrome accompanies certain conditions such as celiac disease, milk intolerances and Crohn’s disease.
Different types of cancers, inflammatory bowel disease and certain infections may cause decreased protein levels in your body, suggests Chemocare.com. Nutritional deficiencies that result from not getting sufficient protein through your diet may be another cause for low protein blood levels. Although blood tests can detect low levels of certain blood protein, only a doctor can diagnose the predominant cause or reason for the development of this condition.