Albumin is the most abundant protein in the blood. It is made by the liver and binds to calcium, hormones, vitamins and drugs and carries them through your bloodstream. Its main function in the body however, is to prevent fluid from leaking out of your blood vessels.
Albumin is usually tested in conjunction with other tests if a person appears to have symptoms of liver or kidney disease. As albumin is made in the liver any damage to the liver can alter the amount in the blood.
Albumin levels in the blood can also be affected by diseases in which the kidneys can no longer stop albumin from leaking from the blood into the urine.
The most common cause of a high result for albumin is dehydration. Certain drugs can increase albumin in your blood, including testosterone, growth hormones, and insulin.
A low result for albumin may mean some liver damage is present. Other liver blood tests are needed to help determine the cause and severity. A low albumin result can also suggest conditions in which your body loses too much protein through the kidneys or intestines.
In hospital settings low albumin concentrations in the blood can also be seen in patients suffering from severe inflammation or shock. A low albumin can also occur during pregnancy or congestive heart failure, due to dilution of blood.