What are the causes and treatment options for hypoalbuminemia?

Symptom Database

Hypoalbuminemia, also known as low albumin levels or albumin deficiency, is a medical condition characterized by a decrease in the levels of albumin in the blood. Albumin is a protein produced by the liver and plays a crucial role in maintaining the osmotic pressure of blood, transporting various substances, and regulating fluid balance in the body. When the albumin levels drop below the normal range, it can lead to several health complications. In this article, we will explore the causes and treatment options for hypoalbuminemia.

Causes of Hypoalbuminemia

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of hypoalbuminemia. Understanding these causes is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. Some common causes include:

  • Liver Disease: Liver diseases such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver failure can impair the liver’s ability to produce albumin, leading to hypoalbuminemia.
  • Kidney Disease: Kidney disorders, including nephrotic syndrome and chronic kidney disease, can cause increased loss of albumin through urine, resulting in low albumin levels.
  • Malnutrition: Inadequate intake of protein-rich foods can lead to a deficiency of albumin in the body.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause inflammation and damage to the intestines, leading to malabsorption of nutrients, including albumin.
  • Severe Burns: Extensive burns can cause a significant loss of albumin through damaged skin.
  • Malabsorption Disorders: Certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as celiac disease and pancreatic insufficiency, can impair the absorption of nutrients, including albumin.

Symptoms of Hypoalbuminemia

Hypoalbuminemia can manifest with various symptoms, depending on the severity and underlying cause. Some common symptoms include:

  • Edema: Swelling in the legs, ankles, and abdomen due to fluid accumulation.
  • Ascites: Build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity, causing abdominal distension.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: A decrease in body weight without any apparent cause.
  • Muscle Weakness: Reduced muscle strength and fatigue.
  • Delayed Wound Healing: Poor healing of wounds and ulcers.
  • Increased Susceptibility to Infections: Low albumin levels can weaken the immune system, making individuals more prone to infections.

Treatment for Hypoalbuminemia

The treatment of hypoalbuminemia aims to address the underlying cause and increase albumin levels in the blood. The specific treatment options may vary depending on the individual’s condition and the severity of hypoalbuminemia. Here are some common treatment approaches:

Dietary Modifications

Improving the intake of protein-rich foods can help increase albumin levels. Including sources of high-quality protein such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts in the diet can be beneficial. In severe cases, a nutritionist or dietitian may recommend specialized nutritional supplements.


In certain cases, medications may be prescribed to address the underlying cause of hypoalbuminemia. For example, diuretics may be used to manage edema and fluid retention, while corticosteroids or immunosuppressants may be prescribed for autoimmune conditions causing albumin loss.

Treating Underlying Conditions

Addressing the underlying conditions contributing to hypoalbuminemia is crucial for long-term management. This may involve treating liver or kidney diseases, managing inflammatory bowel disease, or providing appropriate medical interventions for other related disorders.

Intravenous Albumin Infusion

In severe cases of hypoalbuminemia, where immediate correction is required, intravenous albumin infusion may be administered. This involves the direct infusion of albumin into the bloodstream to rapidly increase albumin levels.

Regular Monitoring and Follow-up

Regular monitoring of albumin levels and follow-up with healthcare professionals are essential to assess the effectiveness of treatment and make any necessary adjustments. This ensures that the underlying cause is adequately managed and albumin levels are maintained within the normal range.

In conclusion, hypoalbuminemia is a condition characterized by low albumin levels in the blood. It can be caused by various factors, including liver and kidney diseases, malnutrition, and inflammatory bowel disease. The symptoms of hypoalbuminemia can range from edema and ascites to muscle weakness and delayed wound healing. Treatment options include dietary modifications, medications, addressing underlying conditions, intravenous albumin infusion, and regular monitoring. If you suspect hypoalbuminemia, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and personalized treatment.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
Add a comment