What is Hypoalbuminemia?
Hypoalbuminemia is a medical sign when albumin levels in a person’s blood become lower than normal. Albumin is the type of protein with the most amount in the body that forms blood plasma and is produced in liver organ. Hypoalbuminemia is a medical disorder usually suffered by people who have acute and chronic medical conditions.
Symptoms of hypoalbuminemia can also indicate the presence of diseases such as cirrhosis (liver organ damage) or chronic hepatitis. Symptoms of reduced blood albumin levels, presence of proteins in the urine, and edema (swelling of the body parts) are signs of nephrotic syndrome due to kidney damage. Low levels of albumin can also be a sign of chronic malnutrition, or protein losing enteropathy (loss of protein due to gastrointestinal wall damage).
Low albumin levels in a person’s blood can lead to an increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Albumin affects 75-80 percent of colloidal osmotic pressure from normal plasma meaning that albumin is very influential on blood vessel capillary pressure. Albumin role to bind the body fluids so as not to leak out of the blood vessels. When the levels of these compounds fall, then the fluid will be out of body tissue and the body will swell (edema). Capillary pressure is also very influential in kidney function in filtering blood.
Albumin contains 50 percent protein. This type of body protein serves to channel some substances throughout the body such as:
- Fatty acid.
- Metal (minerals).
- Drugs that come from outside the body.
Symptoms of Hypoalbuminemia
Symptoms are something that is felt and told by the patient. Some of the symptoms and medical signs of hypoalbuminemia are as follows:
- Swelling of the face.
- Swollen parotid gland.
- Enlargement of the tongue (makroglosia).
- Muscle shrinkage, especially in the area of the hands and testes shrink.
- Bradikardia, hypotension (low blood pressure), and heart enlarged.
- The loss of fat under the skin layer, the skin becomes dry, the blood vessels glide at the surface of the skin and look like a spider angiomas, palms appear redder (palmar erythema), and the skin of the whole body looks yellow (jaundice).
- Swelling of the edge of the body as both feet swell.
- The wound is hard to heal.
- Brain damage (Encephalopathy).
- Slow growth of children.
Causes of Hypoalbuminemia
Hypoalbuminemia may result from increased loss or albumin production in the body decreased or impaired. There are several things that can cause low levels of albumin in the blood, among others:
- Malnutrition protein. Lack of protein entering the body can cause a drop in albumin production by up to a third in 24 hours.
- Damage to the body’s albumin making. In patients with cirrhosis, albumin production is reduced due to damage to the liver cells of the manufacture (synthesis) albumin. Not only does its manufacture decrease, cirrhosis also causes the blood flow of the liver tissue to worsen so that the albumin distribution worsens.
- Loss of extravascular protein (body tissue). This is partly because of the disease of nephrotic syndrome in which proteins leak and out through the urine, protein losing enteropathy, lymphatic blockage diseases that result in protein lost through the digestive system, or extensive burns that cause the protein in the body tissue is lost.
- Hemodilution. Conditions in which blood volume dilution occurs. Usually this condition accompanies the symptoms of ascites, namely fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. In hemodilution, albumin production may be normal or even elevated but appears to decrease in blood sampling because blood is more diluted by body fluids.
- Long-term inflammation (chronic) and acute. The inflammatory process makes capillary blood vessels more easily penetrated albumin, so albumin can leak into the tissues. Plus the formation of albumin at the time of acute or chronic infection.
Diagnosis of Hypoalbuminemia
Diagnosis is a doctor’s step to identify a disease or condition based on a history of illness, symptoms and signs experienced by the patient and investigation if necessary. If suspected of hypoalbuminemia, the doctor will advise the patient to undergo some diagnostic support actions, among others:
- Blood test. The patient will take blood samples for further study in the laboratory.
- Imaging test. Your doctor may advise patients to perform ultrasound, echocardiography, or radiographic tests to identify the cause of hypoalbuminemia.
- Biopsy. The doctor will take a sample of liver or kidney tissue for further study in the laboratory.
Treatment of Hypoalbuminemia
To treat hypoalbuminemia the doctor must deal with the cause first, not just replace the albumin substance in the body. Incorporating an infusion of albumin is usually done by a doctor to reduce the symptoms of hypoalbuminemia. However, this process has proved ineffective to date.
If the cause is known, then the patient is also expected to improve his diet to support the success of treatment. The best diet to help treat hypoalbuminemia is high in protein and high in calories.
The most effective way to minimize hypoalbuminemia is to create a positive nitrogen balance. This process is done by consuming enteral proteins, ie the consumption of proteins that are inserted into the gastrointestinal tract directly by using a feeding tube or feeding tube.
Daily activities and body work adjusted to the severity of the disease.
Surgery may be performed if there is any indication of the cause of hypoalbuminemia.
Album content is an illustration of the severity of disease journey. The lower the albumin level means the disease is getting worse. Therefore, doctors need to keep an eye on the course of the disease and continuously check the levels of repeat albumin.