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How can I increase my albumin levels?

Answered by: Dr. Patrick Kamath
Senior Gastroenterologist,
Mayo Clinic, Rochester,
USA

Q. I am a Hepatitis C patient with cirrhosis. My albumin levels remain very low (2.6 to 2.9). I get my serum albumin tested every month. I also have swelling in the legs and feet and a Grade II oesophageal varices. I am very worried. My doctor advised me Aldactone 25 mg daily. I want to know if this is safe for me. Can I raise my albumin levels through diet? My SGOT and SGPT remains around 120 and 130. My spleen is slightly enlarged.

A.  The best way to get rid of swelling of the feet and abdomen in liver disease is a low salt diet with medicines, which increase the amount of urine such as aldactone (spironolactone). Aldactone is safe in liver disease. Albumin is produced by the liver. The level is low if the liver is not functioning well. Diet will not significantly increase the albumin. Albumin given through the vein does not increase the amount in the blood for more than 1-2 days - it is expensive and not recommended. Albumin is recommended only if fluid is removed from your abdomen, or if you have infection of the abdominal fluid, a condition called spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. If the kidney is not working well, albumin may be given along with other medicines.

A.  The best way to get rid of swelling of the feet and abdomen in liver disease is a low salt diet with medicines, which increase the amount of urine such as aldactone (spironolactone). Aldactone is safe in liver disease. Albumin is produced by the liver. The level is low if the liver is not functioning well. Diet will not significantly increase the albumin. Albumin given through the vein does not increase the amount in the blood for more than 1-2 days - it is expensive and not recommended. Albumin is recommended only if fluid is removed from your abdomen, or if you have infection of the abdominal fluid, a condition called spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. If the kidney is not working well, albumin may be given along with other medicines.

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