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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 can you prepare for the test?

  • In general, you don't need to prepare before having this test. Your doctor may give you some specific instructions.

What happens during the test?

  • A health professional takes a sample of your blood.

What else should you know about the test?

  • Your results will include an explanation of what a "normal" result is. This is called a "reference range." It is just a guide. Your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed may still be normal for you.

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 call line 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?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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