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Low proteins level in the blood

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Low proteins level in the blood

What are low protein levels in the blood called?

  • Hypoproteinemia

What are the normal protein levels in the blood?

If you need to know which are the proteins reference range or you require more information about the role of proteins in the blood you can visit: Normal protein levels in the blood

What do low protein levels in the blood mean?

A low level of total proteins in the blood is called hypoproteinemia and it is usually due to:

  • A decrease in the production of proteins, for example in case of suffering from agammaglobulinemia.
  • A loss of proteins may be a consequence of a kidney or liver problem (nephrotic syndrome, hepatitis, cirrhosis, etc.)

Protein values are usually given in g/dl but sometimes you can see these values in g/L following the International System of Units (SI). In case your values are in g/L you can convert them using this tool:

g/L
  • Mild hypoproteinemia (4-6 g/dl in adults):

    Protein levels are a bit low and it is necessary to study which type of protein is causing the low levels. It may be the albumin or some type of globulins.

    Mild hypoproteinemia may be due to malabsorption (Crohn’s disease, celiac disease) or a problem related to the kidney or the liver.

    You should visit your doctor to find a diagnosis. If you are a woman and you are taking oral contraceptives tell it to your doctor because it may be a possible cause.

  • Marked hypoproteinemia (< 4 g/dl in adults):

    Protein levels are very low and if albumin is also low you can suffer from edema (swelling of the legs) and ascites (build-up of fluid in the abdomen).

    The main reason is a renal failure (nephrotic syndrome, glomerulonephritis, etc.). You should visit your doctor because is a situation that requires to keep an eye.

    There are some genetic disorders related to marked hypoproteinemia such as agammaglobulinemia where there is a problem in the production of some type of proteins. This possibility should be considered in infants.

Which factors can reduce the protein levels in the blood?

To suffer a particular health situation or taking some drugs can reduce your protein level in the blood:

  • Pregnancy
  • Bleeding
  • Malnutrition
  • Burns
  • Drugs
    • Oral Contraceptives
    • Sex hormones
      • Estrogens

What can I do to increase the protein levels in the blood?

The following diseases can explain a protein level in the blood lower than normal:

  • Bruton’s agammaglobulinemia
  • Ascites
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Hepatitis
  • Hepatic cirrhosis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Whipple's disease
  • Ménétrier disease
  • Celiac disease

What can I do to increase the protein levels in the blood?

The protein intake on the diet does not usually have any influence in the protein level in the blood. An increase in the protein intake does not increase the protein blood level.

Where can I find more information about protein levels in the blood?

You can visit our pages about:

Which values are considered low protein levels in the blood?

The following values are considered to be below the normal range:

IMPORTANT: These levels are expressed in g/dl. They are an example of a healthy man of about 45 years old with a balanced diet, no known disease and not taking any medication. The ranges can be different depending on the laboratory or on your personal circumstances.

Proteins
Mild hypoproteinemia
5.9 g/dl5.8 g/dl5.7 g/dl5.6 g/dl5.5 g/dl5.4 g/dl5.3 g/dl5.2 g/dl
5.1 g/dl5 g/dl4.9 g/dl4.8 g/dl4.7 g/dl4.6 g/dl4.5 g/dl4.4 g/dl
4.3 g/dl4.2 g/dl4.1 g/dl4 g/dl    
Marked hypoproteinemia
3.9 g/dl3.8 g/dl3.7 g/dl3.6 g/dl3.5 g/dl3.4 g/dl3.3 g/dl3.2 g/dl
3.1 g/dl3 g/dl2.9 g/dl2.8 g/dl2.7 g/dl2.6 g/dl2.5 g/dl2.4 g/dl
2.3 g/dl2.2 g/dl2.1 g/dl2 g/dl1.9 g/dl1.8 g/dl1.7 g/dl1.6 g/dl
1.5 g/dl1.4 g/dl1.3 g/dl1.2 g/dl1.1 g/dl1 g/dl0.9 g/dl0.8 g/dl
0.7 g/dl0.6 g/dl0.5 g/dl0.4 g/dl0.3 g/dl0.2 g/dl0.1 g/dl0 g/dl
Last update: 19/10/2020

Bibliography

  • Concise Book of Medical Laboratory Technology: Methods and Interpretations. 2nd Edition. 2015. Ramnik Sood. ISBN: 978-93-5152-333-8. Pag. 478.
  • Tietz. Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry. Carl A. Burtis, Edward R. Ashwood, David E. Bruns, Barbara G. Sawyer. WB Saunders Company, 2008. Pag 294. ISBN: 978-0-7216-3865-2
  • Laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures with nursing diagnoses (8th ed), Jane Vincent Corbett, Angela Denise Banks, ISBN: 978-0-13-237332-6, Pag. 228.

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