Diseases

Hypoalbuminemia – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Hypoalbuminemia

A form of hypoproteinemia is called hypoalbuminemia This leads to low levels of albumin in the blood. Albumin is a plasma protein responsible for transporting many small molecules. A lack of this protein can therefore cause various disorders such as the formation of edema and low blood pressure.

What is hypoalbuminemia?

In medicine, hypoalbuminemia is also known as hypoalbuminemia . It is the most common form of hypoproteinemia , in which there is a reduced protein content in the blood plasma. In the case of hypoalbuminemia, the level of albumin in the blood is too low .

Albumin is an important protein in the human organism. It produces over 50 percent of all proteins found in the blood vessels. Albumin is formed in the liver and is produced by the liver cells (hepatocytes). The normal total amount of albumin in the body is over 300 grams.

Albumin is important as a carrier for numerous other substances, including trace elements , hormones , bilirubin and fatty acids. In addition, the protein ensures that 75 to 80 percent of the colloid osmotic pressure is maintained.

If there is a pathological lack of albumin in the blood, this leads to the development of edema (water retention) in the body due to reduced colloid osmotic pressure. Albumin is also important for binding different drugs. In hypoalbuminemia, these drugs are free in the blood plasma, which in turn results in higher drug levels.

causes

Normally, the human body keeps the level of albumin in the blood constant. If there is a lower synthesis compared to the loss, this leads to a lowering of the protein. Possible causes of hypoalbuminemia are reduced albumin formation due to permanent liver damage, kidney damage or malnutrition .

A loss of albumin can also result from burns with large wound surfaces or acute inflammation . Other possible reasons are protein-losing enteropathy or exudative pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). A disruption in protein synthesis is also found in an antibody deficiency syndrome or liver cirrhosis .

Furthermore, food intolerances such as celiac disease , anorexia nervosa (anorexia nervosa ) and gastrointestinal tumors can be responsible for the loss of albumin. Physiological hypoalbuminemia occurs during pregnancy, which usually occurs in the 3rd trimester.

It is the result of proteinuria and is responsible for the development of edema in pregnant women. The causes for this are both an increased plasma volume and an increasing glomerular patency. This results in increased excretion of albumin through the kidneys.

If the albumin loss through the urine is more than 300 milligrams per day, this is no longer considered harmless and can be an indication of the onset of preeclampsia . A loss of more than three grams of protein per day is considered to be a serious loss.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The lack of albumin in the body causes a drop in colloid osmotic pressure within the blood plasma. As a result, the water cannot be held in physiological amounts in the vascular system. This leads to a transition into the interstitium (space between cells). This in turn leads to the formation of edema.

Albumin is the protein most commonly found in the human body. It also ensures the transport of drugs and hormones. The lack of the protein therefore affects their effect. Other symptoms of protein deficiency are low blood pressure , pleural effusion and ascites (water belly).

A large amount of fluid accumulates between the organs in the abdominal cavity. A pleural effusion, on the other hand, causes water to accumulate in the lungs. In the case of a water belly, there is a risk that intestinal bacteria will penetrate the abdominal cavity, which in turn can lead to a dangerous infection.

Not infrequently, the lack of albumin leads to an increased concentration of fatty acids, hormones and bilirubin in the blood. The absorption capacity of the albumins is too low due to the hypoalbuminemia.

Diagnosis & disease progression

If hypoalbuminemia or hypoproteinemia is suspected, a doctor should be consulted. Based on the symptoms, the doctor can initially only make a presumptive diagnosis. The low albumin concentration can be determined by serum protein electrophoresis, in which a reduced albumin peak can be determined.

It is also possible to measure the serum albumin. The lack of albumin can be differentiated from a too low concentration of immunoglobulins. Because hypoalbuminemia does not show up on its own, the triggering underlying disease must also be diagnosed. Recognizing the causes for the following therapy is of the utmost importance.

In order for hypoalbuminemia to take a positive course, it is important to treat the underlying disease responsible. In the case of chronic diseases, permanent therapy may be required. If the triggering cause is successfully combated, this usually leads to normalization of the albumin concentration.

complications

In most cases, the hypoalbuminemia leads to a relatively low blood pressure in the patient. Furthermore, various other complaints and symptoms can also occur due to the lack of the protein and make everyday life more difficult for those affected. The reduced blood pressure also reduces the patient’s resilience, so that sporting activities or physical exertion can usually no longer be carried out.It is not uncommon for this to lead to fainting spells , in which the person concerned can also injure themselves. The patient appears tired and exhausted and often no longer actively participates in life. Furthermore, there is a so-called water belly, which can lead to various infections and inflammations. The immune system of those affected is also weakened , so that they are more likely to contract infections and inflammations.

As a rule, there are no special complications during treatment. This always takes place causally and depends on the underlying disease that is responsible for the hypoalbuminemia. It is not uncommon for hypoalbuminemia to be caused by malnutrition, so treatment should always be accompanied by a psychologist.

When should you go to the doctor?

If symptoms such as low blood pressure or signs of abdominal water are noticed, hypoalbuminemia may be the cause. A doctor should be consulted if symptoms persist for a long period of time or cause severe discomfort over time. In the event of dizziness, tiredness or severe pain, you must always go to the family doctor . Effusions and infections that appear to occur without a reason also require rapid clarification.

Patients suffering from malnutrition due to an eating disorder are particularly susceptible to hypoalbuminemia. Even after major burns or acute inflammation, there is an increased risk of low albumin levels in the blood. Anyone who belongs to this risk group should see a doctor immediately if they have the symptoms mentioned. Older people and pregnant women should also have unusual symptoms clarified quickly in order to avoid complications. Children are best taken to the pediatrician . In severe cases, such as increasing pain or acute inflammation, a visit to the hospital is always indicated.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of hypoalbuminemia goes hand in hand with the therapy of the underlying disease that is responsible for the albumin deficiency. If there is an escape of water from the blood vessels, this is stopped. In this way, the edema recedes.

In the case of a pronounced water belly, a puncture can take place through the abdominal wall, with which the excess water can be drained. Diuretics are also prescribed to remove water retention. In the case of malnutrition due to anorexia, psychotherapy is often useful. The diet must also be adjusted accordingly.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis of hypoalbuminemia depends on the causative disease. If there is no medical care, the prognosis for these patients can be described as unfavorable. If the course of the disease is difficult, there is organ damage and a donor organ is needed. Alternatively, the person concerned is at risk of premature death.

If the underlying disease can be treated well, the prognosis is good. In the case of malnutrition, the missing nutrients or trace elements are compensated for, so that after a few weeks or months you are free of symptoms. However, a relapse is possible at any time as soon as the defect reappears.

If there are severe burns, the chances of healing are reduced. A skin graft is often required. In addition, long-term therapy is necessary to alleviate the symptoms. Chronic diseases usually have a protracted course. Cure is possible in many patients, but it can sometimes take years before improvement occurs.

In addition to physical irregularities, psychological stability must be considered to promote recovery. If there is an intolerance, a symptom-free hypoalbuminemia can be achieved if all specifications are taken into account. If the patient pays close attention to the ingredients when taking food or medication, the development of anemia can be adequately prevented.

prevention

Because of the numerous underlying diseases that can cause hypoalbuminemia, no meaningful preventive measures are known. If the underlying disease can be identified, its treatment is considered the best prevention.

aftercare

In the case of hypoalbuminemia, the person affected usually has no special options and measures for aftercare. The person affected is primarily dependent on early detection and treatment of this disease so that the symptoms do not worsen or further complications occur. As a rule, in the case of hypoalbuminemia, the underlying disease must first be identified and then treated.

Proper treatment of the underlying disease is the only way to fully alleviate the symptoms. The treatment is carried out by draining the water, whereby most of those affected also have to take medication. It is important to ensure that the medication is taken correctly and regularly. In the case of children, parents must ensure that they are taken and consult a doctor if they have any questions or are unclear.

Since hypoalbuminemia can also lead to depression or mental disorders, psychological therapy should be started early. The loving care and support of friends and family also has a very positive effect on the further course of the disease. In many cases, proper nutrition is also important to counteract this deficiency.

You can do that yourself

When treating hypoalbuminemia, the doctor concentrates on treating the underlying disease. This is usually done with antibiotics and diuretics. However, there are some things the patient can do themselves to speed up recovery and reduce the risk of complications.

If the symptoms are caused by malnutrition, the diet must be changed. The patient should contact a specialist doctor or a nutritionist for this purpose. Together with the specialist, an individual nutrition plan can be drawn up that is based on the physical symptoms and optimally supports healing. In addition, psychotherapy is often necessary, since persistent malnutrition is often the result of serious mental health problems. Patients suffering from anorexia should immediately go to a counseling center and make an appointment for further therapy.

In addition, the symptoms must be treated. Cooling and rest help against pressure pain as a result of edema. Gentle ointments such as marigold ointment or arnica also help against such symptoms. If these measures have no effect, a doctor must be consulted. The same applies to unusual symptoms and acute pain.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.