Albumin is a protein in your blood that’s made by the liver. It helps your body repair tissues and prevents fluid leaks from blood vessels. Albumin also carries nutrients, hormones and medicines through your body. A serum albumin test determines if your blood has normal albumin levels. Abnormal levels may indicate liver or kidney damage.

A serum albumin test is not the same as a microalbumin test, which measures protein in urine.

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What is an albumin test?

An albumin test measures the amount of albumin, or protein, in your blood. It can be used to evaluate the health of your liver or kidneys. It can also be used to spot nutritional problems.

An albumin test is often ordered as part of a comprehensive metabolic panel, or group of tests. The panel is used to evaluate your overall health, diagnose or monitor a disease, or rule out a diagnosis. Symptoms of low albumin levels, or hypoalbuminemia, include:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Problems urinating
  • Jaundice, or yellowish tinge in the skin
  • Swelling around the belly, legs or eyes

Why is an albumin test important?

An albumin test can be used to diagnose or monitor liver disease or kidney disease. It can also pinpoint problems with nutrition, such as your body not absorbing enough protein.

Low albumin levels, or hypoalbuminemia, may indicate health concerns, including:
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Cancer
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Inflammation or infection

High albumin levels may be caused by dehydration or a diet that’s high in protein.

What should you expect with an albumin test?

A blood sample is needed to measure albumin levels in your blood. A healthcare provider will use a needle to draw blood, typically from a vein in your arm. The sample will be sent to a lab for testing.

No preparation is needed, but you should give your healthcare provider a list of any medications or supplements you are taking. After the results come back from the lab, you can discuss them with your healthcare provider.

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