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Total Protein: About This Test

What is it?

A total serum protein test measures protein in the blood. Blood proteins are mainly made by the liver and white blood cells.

Why is this test done?

The test is done to look for disease or illness in the body. When you have a disease or illness, it can cause changes to the protein levels in your blood.

What do the results mean?

A low total serum protein level can be caused by:

  • losing blood
  • kidney damage
  • severe burns
  • having too much salt (sodium) in the body (called salt retention syndrome)
  • suddenly eating less protein

A high total serum protein level can be caused by:

  • severe dehydration (This can happen when your body loses too much fluid, making you weak, dizzy, unable to think clearly, or pass out.)
  • some blood cancers

How do you prepare for the test?

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How is the test done?

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

How long does the test take?

The test will take a few minutes.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

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