Small amounts of various types of proteins are normally present in our blood. Albumin and globulin are the main proteins found in blood. Elevated blood protein levels indicate occurrence of some serious health condition. The test to measure the blood protein levels is known as 'total protein test'. Remember, a high-protein diet is not responsible for high protein levels in blood. If total protein test is performed along with routine lab tests, then it is possible that one may come to know about increased blood protein levels unexpectedly, before noticing any symptoms.
Proteins found in the blood are commonly known as serum proteins which play an important role in the human body mechanism. They promote functioning of the immune system and also strengthen the system; so that you do not have to suffer from illnesses every now and then. Besides, serum proteins regulate your cell function too. Normally, small amounts of various types of proteins are present in blood. If the proteins exceed the normal count of serum proteins, then the situation needs immediate medical attention. The normal range for serum proteins is 6.0 to 8.3 gm/dl (grams per deciliter). There may be slight variations from person to person.
Causes of High Blood Protein Levels
Complete Breakdown of Immune System
The amount of proteins in the blood can rise alarmingly due to total dysfunction of immune system. If such condition is noticed, doctor will ask the patient to perform hepatitis test or HIV/AIDS test as these two are primarily held responsible for high blood protein. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C can destroy your immune system completely. Any kind of chronic inflammation or infection can also lead to immune system dysfunction. For instance, such condition can be noticed in rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms of immune system dysfunction include nausea or poor appetite, unexplained weight loss, severe fatigue, persistent fever, etc.
Cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow is known as multiple myeloma which generally affects older adults. The fast growing cancer cells in the bone marrow can cause pain, numbness, paralysis, destruction of bones, etc. It can affect the body's ability to make red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, resulting in anemia and dysfunction of immune system; and can lead to elevated blood protein levels. The symptoms of multiple myeloma include bleeding problems, bone or back pain, increased susceptibility to infection, symptoms of anemia (such as tiredness, shortness of breath, and fatigue) and unexplained fractures.
Waldenstrom's disease is a cancer involving a subtype of white blood cells called lymphocytes. Symptoms of Waldenstrom's disease include weakness, fatigue, weight loss and chronic oozing of blood from the nose and gums, swollen lymph glands, increased viscosity of the blood, etc. Thickening of blood can affect brain function. Symptoms are mainly neurological like blurring or loss of vision, headache and (rarely) stroke or coma.
In case of amyloidosis (building up of amyloid proteins in bodily organs which can affect important organs like heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract) or in case of 'Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)', elevated blood protein can be noticed. In MGUS, abnormal levels of monoclonal protein or M protein in blood are found. This can occur due to presence of other diseases like blood cancer. Sometimes, MGUS does not exhibit any symptoms and does not cause any problem.
If you notice constant fever, excessive fatigue, unexplained weight loss, nausea and loss of appetite, then you should immediately see your doctor. You should undergo the tests suggested by your doctor. A total serum protein test is generally performed to assess liver and kidney function. It is also ordered to find out the cause of swelling of the ankles (edema) or abdomen (ascites) or of fluid collection in the lungs leading to shortness of breath (pulmonary edema), etc. The test also helps determine whether your diet contains enough proteins. Doctors may order several other tests to diagnose multiple myeloma or Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia. Depending upon the underlying cause, the doctor would design the treatment to lower blood protein levels.
Healthy diet with steady supply of all nutrients is essential to prevent excessive protein in blood. A diet rich in vitamin C and fibers can ensure proper filtering by kidneys; which can help maintain proper blood protein level. A nutrient rich diet can boost the immune system. Sufficient rest and stress management help stabilize the blood protein levels. Elevated levels of protein in blood should never be overlooked. Rather, you should immediately consult your doctor for prompt diagnosis and correct treatment.