What is hypoproteinemia?

Hypoproteinemia is an unusually low level of protein in the blood, indicative of an underlying medical problem. A number of conditions can cause hypoproteinemia and many are treatable, with successful outcomes more likely when treatment is provided in a timely manner. This condition is diagnosed with a blood test to check serum protein levels, and it is possible for a patient to have a specific form, such as hypoalbuminemia, where the levels of a particular protein, in this case albumin, are lower than normal. what they should be.

Routine blood tests sometimes identify protein levels that are slightly lower than normal, and a doctor may recommend further tests to find out more if there's no obvious cause. In other cases, a doctor may suspect hypoproteinemia and specifically order the test as part of a diagnostic workup, such as in cases where a patient has symptoms of a disease associated with low blood protein. The test will also provide a breakdown of the concentrations of different types of protein so clinicians can see if the proportional values ​​remain the same, or if a protein is unusually low or high.

A common cause of hypoproteinemia is kidney failure, where the damaged kidneys begin to leak protein into the urine, causing proteinuria. Malnutrition may be a cause, as the patient does not get enough protein in the first place. Protein-wasting enteropathies, where the intestine eliminates protein instead of retaining it, are another potential reason for developing blood protein changes. Lymphangiectasia, an enlargement of a lymphatic vessel, is an example of a protein-losing enteropathy. Severe burns have also been associated with hypoproteinemia.

When this symptom is identified, other information about the patient's condition will be used to determine the cause and develop a treatment plan. Sometimes it can be as simple as making dietary changes to address a patient's nutritional needs. In other cases, medications may be needed to treat the cause, or the patient may need surgery. Follow-up tests can be used to see if protein levels are increasing in response to treatment. If the patient does not improve, further diagnostic testing may be needed to see if the patient has comorbidities that interfere with the treatment regimen.

In the long term, hypoproteinemia can be dangerous. The lack of protein in the blood will cause muscle wasting and other problems. The untreated underlying condition can also worsen and develop complications. If patients are allowed to become extremely ill, a cascading series of medical problems can develop and there is a risk of death.

Go up