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I have a albumin level of 2. Been increasing my protein

I have a albumin...

I have a albumin level of 2. Been increasing my protein intake to 120 grams a day. Why is it so low? Also feet and ankles are swollen.

Doctor's Assistant: Any recent injuries? How long have you been dealing with the swelling?

I had an abdominal hernia repair almost two years ago. Big surgery and had open wound. Swelling started after that. I take Lasix but not helping much

Doctor's Assistant: Anything else in your medical history you think the doctor should know?

Im on atenolol and BP is good. I was a vegetarian but now adding some meat because I need a lot of protein. I am 68. Fairly healthy.

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Answered in 12 minutes by:
5/15/2018
Dr. Jon
Dr. Jon, Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 614
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Hi there. I'm Dr. Jon. I'll be happy to help answer your question.

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Low albumin can be caused by lack of nutrition, but this is only one of several causes.

It can also be caused by liver or kidney disease. The liver helps to produce albumin, so problems in the liver can cause low production. When the kidneys are not working properly, they can leak protein, causing protein loss in the urine. Either of these can cause the albumin to be low in the blood. Either of these could also cause swelling in the ankles and feet that you describe.

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Did you have blood tests to check the liver and kidneys when you had the albumin checked?

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I knew that but my labs seem ok so doubt underlying disease. I am just wondering how long of increasing high protein intake might it take to increase my level. Any labs I should have done? If diuretics are not helping much, does that mean edema is more likely due to low albumin?

Have you had your urine evaluated to see if the kidneys are spilling protein? It would be unusual for the albumin to be so low in someone who is eating normally.

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When the albumin is low, the diuretic does not tend to work that well in part because of the way the edema forms from the low protein state (it is more difficult to get the fluid back into the blood and kidneys to get it out).

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Créatinine. Liver enzymes but not recently. Post surgery I have had MRI and CT scans related to surgery and to check on kidney cysts. All ok. I was on Xaralto for PE I had during surgery. That was only for 3 months, .
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
No to urine but I can get that done. I think I had low protein due to vegetarian and not making effort and then possibly big surgery with deep wound that took months to heal might have contributed.

A urine test to look for protein would be definitely something to have done. Even if the creatinine is normal, that does not rule out a condition called nephrotic syndrome, where the kidneys spill large amount of protein.

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That might be possible, but it really would be unusual to have such low protein unless you had basically no protein in your diet (no beans, tofu, etc.).

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I’ll do that. Any other suggestions?

There are other less common causes of a low albumin that can be checked with blood work. This would include looking for a thyroid condition, low vitamin D, and diabetes. This would be somewhat of an unusual presentation for those things, but they can be checked pretty easily with a blood test if they have not already.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I have had all those tested. TSH a little high so on low dose thyroxine. I take vitamin d but could have level checked.

Given that, I would then focus on the urine studies. If it is dietary, it can take a couple weeks to get the albumin back to the normal range. But again, it would be pretty unusual to have an albumin that low unless there was pretty severe nutrition issues.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Can heart issues cause low albumin? I don’t have any but just wondering how this happened. The edema started right after the big hernia repair. I was 34 liters positive after surgery but it’s been almost two years.

Heart issues would not cause an albumin to be low directly. It can cause fluid in the feet and ankles, but would not explain the albumin being so low. The amount of fluid after surgery could certainly caused the edema, but being 2 years ago it is likely now unrelated.

Dr. Jon
Dr. Jon, Board Certified MD
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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thanks you have been very helpful. I will follow up with my primary physician.

You are welcome. Please let me know if you have further follow-up questions and I will be happy to answer them. If you have future medical questions, please feel free to reach out directly to me on my profile page and I will help if I am able.

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