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What Causes High Blood Protein?

A diagram of the composition of the blood.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
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High blood protein is usually the result of inflammation or infection. A blood test can determine the level and type of protein, and this may provide important clues about the underlying cause. Doctors can request such tests if they have reason to believe a patient's levels may be elevated, and high levels can also be discovered on routine workups. In all cases, the lab that does the analysis should provide a detailed breakdown along with reference levels so a doctor can determine where a patient falls within a range of results from the same lab, as each lab can be slightly different.

Chronic inflammation is a potential culprit behind high blood protein. Patients with arthritis and certain bone marrow diseases tend to have elevated protein levels because their immune systems work harder. Bone marrow diseases like amyloidosis and multiple myeloma are both associated with high blood protein, and can also cause bone pain, soreness, and fatigue. Some patients may also have protein in their urine if their kidneys are stressed by the ongoing inflammation or disease.

Infection can also be a cause. Infections force the immune system to go into overdrive, and this can elevate blood protein levels past the normal range. Chronic infections like hepatitis C and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) lead to high blood protein. Monitoring protein levels in patients with known infections can provide important information about how well they respond to treatment and whether additional or more aggressive treatment is necessary.

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When a doctor finds high blood protein, the first step is usually to order some more tests to determine the cause. The lab can check for other evidence of infection or inflammation. The doctor may also interview the patient to collect information on risk factors and other symptoms that the patient may not realize are related. This information is critical for making a correct diagnosis, and patients should make sure to provide a detailed medical history.

Once the doctor knows more about the cause, she can recommend treatments. These may include medications and dietary changes. During the course of treatment, followup tests can monitor the blood protein levels to see if they drop. If they do not, it may be necessary to pursue more aggressive treatment options such as different medications or a combination drug regimen. It is important to receive treatment because persistent high protein levels can strain the kidneys and lead to health complications for the patient.

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Discuss this Article

anon334070
Post 4

My GP told that my protein is high and asked me if I wanted a test for HIV. I'm very scared.

donasmrs
Post 3

My blood protein has been consistently high for almost a year but my doctor hasn't found anything wrong. Has anyone else experienced this?

turquoise
Post 2

@burcidi-- Please don't jump to conclusions. High protein levels in blood don't always mean that there is something very bad going on. Plus, one single lab result is not enough to make any determination. Your doctor will request another blood test from you and if the blood protein is still elevated then, he will look into the possible causes.

Sometimes, blood protein can temporary increase and then fall. The test might have been done during this time. Dehydration is one cause of temporary blood protein increases. A mild infection such as stomach flu can also be the cause.

So stay calm, I'm sure everything will be fine.

burcidi
Post 1

I had blood work done for a routine checkup last week. I just got my lab results back and it shows that high I have high protein levels in my blood.

I won't be able to speak to my doctor about it until Monday and I'm worried. I didn't think that high blood protein could be a sign of so many serious conditions. I have no choice but to be patient and wait, I just hope that it's not a life threatening issue.

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