Total protein measurements can tell your doctor about whether you are malnourished and about kidney disease, liver disease, and many other conditions. If total protein levels are abnormal, further tests must be done to find which particular protein is abnormal, so that a diagnosis can be made.
Total protein may be measured along with several other tests to help diagnosis of a disease if you have symptoms that suggest a liver or kidney disorder, or have fluid collecting in your tissues (oedema).
Low total protein levels can suggest a liver disorder, a kidney disorder, or a disorder in which protein is not digested or absorbed properly. More specific tests, such as albumin and liver enzyme blood tests, must be performed to make an accurate diagnosis. High total protein levels can indicate dehydration or some types of cancer that lead to an accumulation of an abnormal protein (such as multiple myeloma).
Prolonged application of a tourniquet during blood collection can increase total protein levels. Drugs that may increase protein levels include anabolic steroids, androgens, growth hormone, insulin, and progesterone. Drugs that may decrease protein levels include oestrogens.
This article was last reviewed on 19 June 2013. | This article was last modified on 24 October 2013.
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